2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

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2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Chimango Caracara »

I will post some longer reflections about the set and its many contributors in the next day or two. In the meantime, you can use this thread for discussion.

We should also post the packets in a few days.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by AlanFromHolmdel »

As with any Nats packet, this year's set was incredible.

Even though I disappointingly did not get much of it (despite Chinese history ostensibly being my specialty), I highly appreciated all the China content. The qigong tossup (which I negged after being prompted) in particular was really cool, as was the Duke Wen of Zhou TU (which I also fumbled with the wrong Zhou monarch).

The Tirailleur tossup was also really cool, and probably my proudest buzz of the entire tournament. It's always nice to see the vast diversity of content represented in a set like Nats.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by machgielis »

I'm curious about the reasoning behind the "this place names the more extreme tradition" clue for the skeptical academy. I've always understood Pyrrhonism to be the more radical branch (since they suspend belief to a greater extent), but I can find "sources" online making this claim of both schools. I guess holding even one doctrinal belief can be seen as more radical than not having any beliefs.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Jem Casey »

machgielis wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 3:14 am I'm curious about the reasoning behind the "this place names the more extreme tradition" clue for the skeptical academy. I've always understood Pyrrhonism to be the more radical branch (since they suspend belief to a greater extent), but I can find "sources" online making this claim of both schools. I guess holding even one doctrinal belief can be seen as more radical than not having any beliefs.
My thought when writing it was that the academics' claim that knowledge is impossible was more "extreme" than the Pyrrhonian's mere suspension of belief. However, while this claim could be called "stronger," or maybe "more dogmatic," than Pyrrhonism's, it's not "more extreme" as a skeptical position; and there are other ways in which Academic skepticism was less radical (as you note, Hume and others have characterized them as a "mitigated" form of skepticism since they didn't always suspend belief). Clearly though, trying to capture the difference between such diffuse traditions with a single adjective wasn't going to work, and there was no reason not to just name Pyrrhonism at that point in the question. My apologies to Tim and anyone else affected by the ambiguity.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Hearty thanks to Nick et al. for providing a challenging, enjoyable, intellectually rigorous set. As a player and person with four-dot writing experience, I could feel the thousands of hours of love and toil that were put into it. I've written before that the best ACF Nationals experiences leave you feeling, at a sort of metaphysical gut level, like there's so many cool things you didn't know before and there are so many interesting books to add to the reading list. That definitely describes me this year.

Some general comments:
  • At least statistically, it seems this set’s bonuses played harder than those of any Nats since 2011. Generally -- again going from the stats we have and the fields that played -- I suspect this was overall, the third-hardest ACF Nationals set of the past two decades (behind 2011 and 2005 in some order). From what I gather, this contributed to a pretty muddy battlefield, including at the cutoff for top bracket and within most of the top bracket. Much of this seemed concentrated in the bonuses, where getting a 20 was often a struggle.
    • It’s undertheorized whether ACF Nationals has an “ideal / target” difficulty it should aim for every year, irrespective of actually existing teams, or whether each year’s Nats should adjust to match the expected skill level of the upper part of that year’s field. (If the latter, should it tailor to the best possible field, or adjust for the field that actually registers?) In either case, I believe it’d be good if next year’s Nats editors actively make the set significantly easier than it has been, especially by making easy and middle parts more charitable. I don’t think anything much harder than last spring’s BHSU is needed.
  • Across all categories, I noticed much more content about China than past ACF sets have had, i.e. 1-2 questions in every packet*, most of it from well before the 20th century. I don’t object to this; while pre-modern Chinese history/culture isn’t an especial strength of mine, there are thousands of years to draw on, and the country has about a sixth of the world’s population, and a growing share of players learn about it in-depth in school or through their heritage. It was a pretty noticeable and unannounced shift, though, so I’m curious: how intentional was this emphasis? Does it represent an explicit vision for the future of the canon / what players should expect to study? Is there a list of these questions, or a count?
    • (*including many questions with heavy focus on China’s relationships with neighboring powers: medieval Pyongyang, Le Loi, invasion of Baekje bonus, etc)
  • At times, this set’s comprehensive answerlines -- presumably included to make life easier for moderators -- seemed to make life harder for them. As an answerline grows, it becomes more possible to overlook an instruction, fail to spot that a prompt is directed, delay a round by pausing to read carefully, etc. A point comes when you’re adding stuff like, say, Proto-Indo-European reconstructions, that won’t matter in 99% of cases such that the little costs outweigh the little benefits. A habit of asking "how likely is it that someone will actually give this answer?" and trusting the protest procedure to handle edge cases may improve playability sometimes. When packets get posted, I’ll look through to see if there are illustrative examples.
    • If an answer line gets to, say, two-thirds the length of the question, it starts to be a strong signal to the editor to at least consider finding a simpler answer line that cover this clue-material and asking that instead.
    • I know that exhaustive, diligently-researched answer lines are a hallmark of Nick's editing style, and I don’t want him to abandon that impulse outright.
    • Relatedly, I think the conversation Matt Bollinger wanted to have last year about directed prompts was never fully had, at least in public. I’m curious what this set’s attitude was toward providing them and/or ensuring that they didn’t give away information; in my hazy recollection, some of them definitely felt generous to the level of "what would you say if you knew that <extra clue>?" (Perhaps examples to come after packets posted).

Just a few specific question things for now; I may remember more later --
  • Round 1: The notion that oysters were “once considered a ‘poor man’s food’” in what’s now the eastern U.S. is also very true of lobsters. (Though the tossup had already said “namesake beds” and lobsters don’t really have those.) Cool question overall, though!
  • Playoffs 3: The tossup on BQP (bounded-error quantum polynomial) complexity mentioned Scott Aaronson very early; Aaronson is also a pretty prominent blogger and online cultural critic that many people without any science knowledge run across, and he advertises at the top of his blog that his main expertise is quantum computing, so I ended up sitting through several lines of science clues I didn’t understand wondering if there was any other answer it could have been. If the intent of that clue was to signal something like “if you know who Scott Aaronson is, fyi your answer should be the quantum one” then that’s all well and good, though it runs counter to science editors’ typical reticence to give non-science players any ins.
  • Playoffs ??: The tossup on “still-lifes of flowers”, with indicator "this genre," felt ill-advised to me. Post-tournament, John Lawrence informed me that “Dutch flower painting” is to some extent a reified thing. But if I recall correctly, a clue in the middle that something like “This is the most famous genre that Rachel Ruysch worked in”; at that point I said “still lifes”, was prompted, then said “still-lifes of food”, since she has at least three still-lifes depicting bowls of fruit. If the flowers really are the important part, it might have been a better idea to revise the answer line to just be “flowers” with an indicator phrase like “this kind of object,” and do more to make the Ruysch clue point away from other kinds of objects she repeatedly painted.
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Wed Apr 24, 2024 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by forrestw »

Thanks to everyone involved with the production of ACF Nationals this year! I had a great time playing the set and especially appreciated the music and philosophy questions. I have some general comments with regards to difficulty and vibes:

--Seconding Matt Jackson's impression that this nationals was too hard. To me, the bonuses felt a lot more brutal than the tossups, although that might just be because it's hard to tell exactly where tossups are being buzzed on whereas it's very easy to recognize when teams are mostly 10ing things in top bracket games.

--While my perspective is distorted as a specialist, I do think the music, science, and thought were some of the more controlled categories, which greatly enhanced my enjoyment, while the literature and history seemed to contain a lot of questions on fringe conceits that stumped specialists and devolved into late buzzer races or led to 10s and 0s. Of course, these are just my subjective impressions and I will be interested to see the data on this.

--Lots and lots of questions were "description acceptable" or "specific term required", (which you can start to hear me complain about in the recordings lol)--I also felt that many of these were unnecessary. For example, did the Moanin' tossup, like, intend to neg players for saying "moaning" or something? Would that be an answer someone would even reasonably give? These tags, instructions to read the answer carefully, etc, slow down the round, and as they accumulated throughout the weekend they definitely started to annoy me.

My thoughts on specific categories/questions:
--This tournament had my favorite set of music questions ever. I don't have too much to say about the general approach, but there's a lot of things that made me happy, like: the bonus on Ravel's orchestration, the mention of Saint-Saëns' Africa fantasy, the tossup on Ysaÿe, the tossup on Tchaikovsky's flute writing, the bonus part on Chopin's barcarolle, the tossup on wind symphonies, and the bonus on the early music revival. I also really really loved a lot of the other auditory content: the jazz questions were all superb, the opera questions were interesting a̶n̶d̶ ̶l̶a̶r̶g̶e̶l̶y̶ ̶n̶o̶n̶-̶I̶t̶a̶l̶i̶a̶n̶, but my favorite tossups in that category were probably the tossup on horn in popular music and the tossup on the soundtrack to Star Wars (even though it ended my friendship with Raymond Wang). The only criticism I have is that, other than the bonus on the early music revival, I can't remember a question covering content before 1700. I'm curious if this was an intentional distributional choice, a quirk of packetization, a flaw in my memory, etc., but as early music is one of my favorite subject areas I was disappointed to not see any tossups on even the early Baroque period or something like that.

--The philosophy tossups contained some of my favorite questions of the tournament. Nathan Zhang absolutely obliterated the tossup on "Here is one hand", which has to have been the coolest answerline in the set. Definitely vote for him in your player poll. Anyway, I also really enjoyed the tossups on the last man, Simone Weil, the Academy, the James family, the word "I" in German idealism, tyrants, the Incoherence of the Philosophers, and the finals tossup on being. I did just list half of the tossups, but that's because they were consistently excellent. My one complaint is about the easy part on the presocratics: while that's a really cool idea, I think that after 16 games of quizbowl it really needed to hit the player over the head with the message that "this is about their relationship to Socrates"--I believe I wasn't the only player to try and fail to pull "physiologoi" here since it wasn't obvious it was the easy part. However, the content of that bonus was very cool. The philosophy in this set did tend to skew older and less analytic than a typical nats, but since I like old stuff that was a plus to me :)

--The science was generally well-done, and I especially loved the finals tossup on the density matrix. Keeping with my tradition of ranting about distributional quirks, the only question on classical E&M theory I remember was the one about magnetization, and the only SR content was in chem--I think this is much less of an issue than music having slightly less than one bonus on pre-1700 content but as those are some of favorite areas of physics I was hoping for a bit more.

--There are two physics tossups I'm still salty about: the one on shot noise and the one on the partial time derivative. I think the shot noise question is less egregious, but as far as I'm aware the distinction between ordinary and partial derivative really only matters in analysis. In fact, the only time I learned the Noether's theorem clue in class, the professor wrote it on the board with an ordinary derivative--I'm really not convinced that the "partial" part is necessary to demonstrate knowledge or even to be correct. However, regardless of the correctness of these answers, I think it was foreseeable that they would lead to a lot of negs from failure to convert the prompt. Some other questions I noticed that had this issue were the VFA tossups on floral still lifes and St. Peter's keys. I think all four of these tossups could have been done with simpler answerlines that require fewer details and thus dramatically reduce their neg rates, since the average player probably assumed these questions required less specificity than they actually did.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Good Goblin Housekeeping »

I liked this tournament a lot and it had a very high volume of clues that made me like, extremely excited to hear come up.

I did like that the set didn't spoon-feed a lot of easy parts but it also definitely led to some feels bad moments and combined with the long day definitely led to uh, a pretty big cognitive load. I also liked the bio and chem cluing a lot but geez it was tough! Maybe it's because I just negged everything I heard but I have a sense of playing some clues that were a bit indirect that made it possible to lose track of the clue's relationship to the answerline, but maybe I was the only one tired enough for that.

Similarly I think a few of the og language term qs could have had reminders in the q of this non-english term or something just since there's a lot of stuff to juggle in the ever-so-small working memory basket
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by aseem.keyal »

Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 8:59 am
  • Playoffs ??: The tossup on “still-lifes of flowers”, with indicator "this genre," felt ill-advised to me. Post-tournament, John Lawrence informed me that “Dutch flower painting” is to some extent a reified thing. But if I recall correctly, a clue in the middle that something like “This is the most famous genre that Rachel Ruysch worked in”; at that point I said “still lifes”, was prompted, then said “still-lifes of food”, since she has at least three still-lifes depicting bowls of fruit. If the flowers really are the important part, it might have been a better idea to revise the answer line to just be “flowers” with an indicator phrase like “this kind of object,” and do more to make the Ruysch clue point away from other kinds of objects she repeatedly painted.
I appreciate the feedback, that does sound like a frustrating neg. The idea to change the tossup to ask for "these objects" was floated during the editing process, but I decided to keep it as is for two reasons: 1) As John points out, the floral still life is a distinct genre with its own history, despite not having a commonly used term for it like vanitas. 2) Because of this, I felt that asking for the genre did a better job of making the case for the connection between the paintings than asking for "these objects," which can feel trivial to me. I feel like players would prefer a tossup on "seascapes" to one on "boats" for similar reasons. Making this decision does open the door to negs like yours, however, I do think the thrust of the clue is correct: exhibits or resources on Rachel Ruysch are dominated by her flower paintings, so I would say she's primarily known for painting in the genre. All that being said, this tossup did have a 29 percent neg rate, so I'd appreciate any more feedback on it from players to get a better idea of how it played.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Jem Casey »

Before getting into some category-specific thanks and remarks, I'd like to praise my co-editors for being a wonderful team to work with. It's hard not to belie with false compare when discussing Nick's virtues as a head editor, but for now I'll note that his bountiful generosity with clue ideas, astounding productivity, and the impossibly high standards he has for his own questions have to be seen to be believed. Watching him work taught me much about the tossup and bonus forms and their potentials. Thanks also to Stephen for setting a lofty standard for our shared 4/4 with his work on American and British Literature and for handling most of our subdistro balancing tasks, Elle for her helpful out-of-category thoughts and diligent wordcounter policing, and JL and Mattbo for their clue/answerline-checking help and always erudite feedback.

---

Since I increasingly find editing to be more enjoyable than volume-writing questions from scratch, I was fortunate to receive a lot of support from writers and submitting teams, especially in literature. Thanks to Nick for writing an impressive 31 questions across my 2/2 (he's welcome to list them all, but a tiny sample of my absolute favorites included Tibetan, the Mau Mau, Turgenev, the griots bonus, the Korean lit bonus, the Assyrian Empire, barbarism, priests, and the two Chinese poetry bonuses that Jacky Xu demolished) and freelancers Caroline Mao (illustrations in the Little Prince, Proust, Roadside Picnic, The Lover, eucalyptus bonus, and First Dream), Matt Bollinger (shield of Achilles, witchcraft), Michael Kearney (Virgilian centos bonus), and Jack Mehr (Nathan the Wise).

Thanks also to the submitting teams, whose questions were the basis of over 70% of the Euro and World lit content you heard in prelims. While I wasn't able to use every good clue or concept due to overlaps and subdistributional concerns, I was pleased with the exciting material many teams worked into their questions; special shoutouts are due to Arizona State, Columbia, Cornell A, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Northwestern, Ottawa, and Toronto.

In philosophy, I was able to use Eriugena (Cornell), cosmopolitanism (bonusified from Columbia's tossup), spheres and event semantics (JHU), al-Ghazali (Waterloo), and cuteness (Chicago) with fairly minor edits (EDIT: adding to this list a very cool idea from Virginia, which I won't spoil, from the unheard packet Emergency 2, and a bonus from Berkeley A in Prelims TB); you also heard Nick's excellent questions on (responses to) Locke on property and traditionalist/perennialist takes on modernity.

As will be revealed when advanced stats drop, brutal easy parts were a theme across the philosophy category. As Forrest diagnosed with the Presocratics, part of this was due to wordings that didn't do enough to make the answer's level of depth/technicality clear. While I'm frustrated with these misses and suspect that the category ended up skewing too far from standard undergrad topics overall, I was delighted by the many great buzzes and bonus pulls I heard about and saw throughout the weekend.

I'm looking forward to getting feedback, ranging from very general impressions to very specific gripes, on my categories; in exchange, I'd love to give submitting teams feedback on their questions! In fact, during the editing process I began drafting write-ups, in some cases running to several paragraphs in length, for many teams' Euro Lit, World Lit, and Philosophy questions. I know that packet sub can feel like a black box powered by inscrutable and capricious editorial decisions, so I'd like everyone to have the option to hear about what they did well and could do better in the future. Please consider keeping an eye out for the feedback request form (or reaching out to me now if you’d like).
Last edited by Jem Casey on Thu Apr 25, 2024 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by NedWards »

This was the first ACF Nationals for all 4 members of the McGill team. We had a great time.

Thanks to:
- Ganon Evans and ACF for setting the tournament up
- Michael Kearney and the staff for handling logistics
- all our moderators (we didn't get all your names, but we appreciated your energy and enthusiasm)
- Duke for hosting and having unlimited refills on sweet tea at their dining hall
- Ottawa, Toronto A, Toronto B, and Waterloo for being great company, as per usual
- our fellow bottom bracket teams: your vibes were all fantastic

As for question content, we found it tough, but we were also expecting that to be the case at a 4-dot tournament. I recommend softening up medium parts on bonuses and adding more Quebec history/literature.

Thanks again to everyone involved for making this happen.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by efleisig »

Many thanks to everyone involved in this year’s set! There were some really enjoyable questions this year and I had a great time playing it.

Some questions I thought were particularly good:
  • The pilgrim memorabilia, Mata Hari, and peat bog tossups
  • The Machado de Assis philosophy-focused tossup
  • The Little Prince illustrations tossup
  • The Spanish naturalism bonus
  • The “face” tossup
  • The art tossups on Nelson and lacquer
  • The Data Colada bonus
  • The “here is one hand”/G.E. Moore tossup (especially enjoyed this one)
  • The Star Wars score tossup
Quibbles:
  • Seconding Matt and Forrest’s comments about set difficulty: I certainly understand that Nats is a place for answerlines that wouldn’t come up otherwise, but there were a preponderance of hard answerlines in some areas (in literature, some of the tossups on specific works like The Lover come to mind) where a change of answerline might have improved the play experience for less-experienced teams. I agree with Forrest that this seemed to come up more often in literature, and that a notable exception to this was music, which imo did an excellent job of tossing up hard content with great answerline control.
    In either case, I believe it’d be good if next year’s Nats editors actively make the set significantly easier than it has been, especially by making easy and middle parts more charitable. I don’t think anything much harder than last spring’s BHSU is needed.
    Agreed here as well.
  • There seemed to be a lot of literature questions with answerlines requiring significant history knowledge (the Soviet thaw and Haile Selassie questions stand out here)—certainly fun in moderation, but the proportion seemed rather high.
  • For the tossup on animals in art, I and several other players sat around trying to figure out *what kind* of animal the question wanted, not realizing how generous the answerline was. This might have been a good place to add a note to players or adjust the conceit.
  • Agreed with the sentiment that bonus easy parts seemed a bit uneven—there seemed to be a few cases of making easy parts harder by removing concrete information, which led to a bit of “guess what an easy part would be for this topic.”
  • This aside I enjoyed the set overall!
I especially enjoyed the music in this set—thought it was really solid across the board, covering a range of interesting topics with excellent difficulty control.

The linguistics in this set was also excellent (big fan of the turn-taking and markedness/WALS bonuses). I thought it did a great job of using concrete and clear clues on topics that are relevant in day-to-day linguistics research and study.

Thanks for all your hard work on making this year’s set!

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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by rhn26 »

Just wanted to make a quick post praising the music in this set (as others have already done); might be back with more comments on other categories following the posting of packets.

In general, I really liked the answerline choices, the cluing, and how accessible the category was compared to some of the other more punishing categories, while still remaining challenging and capable of differentiating between top teams. In particular, I really liked the tossups on Bach’s Chaconne, Prokofiev, and arabesque—the clue on Prokofiev 5 did a really amazing job of providing adequate context for the opening clarinet solo of the second movement, and this rung poignantly for me as someone who played the symphony in high school, and I’m happy arabesque clued one of three piano pieces that I know how to play (incidentally all of them are by Debussy). There was also ample variety in genres and eras (big fan of the “Agnus Dei” and wind symphony tossups), though I guess there wasn’t that much early music like Forrest said. I wish I wrote down bonuses so I could heap praise on those too, but for now I’ll say that the Chopin bonus with parts like the (famous) Nocturne op. 9 no. 2 and barcarolle was awesome - the medium part’s clues on the nocturne were written so that anyone who played the piece could get it, and I’ve been waiting so long for Chopin’s Barcarolle to make an appearance in quiz bowl. If only we got it..

I will say there were a couple questions that really hit you over the head with the theming (e.g. harp in Berlioz, flute in Tchaikovsky), which were amusing to listen to (though I write questions like this too so I can’t really say anything). I also think (Second Viennese School) string quartets and Brahms piano concertos played a bit easy in earlier clues, which made us hesitate a bit, but that’s hardly an issue and I certainly applaud the overall accessibility-focused approach to this category, rather than a tossup on the Nth obscure modern composer that might’ve happened 15 years ago. Thanks again!

(Oh, and Jacky obliterated that tossup on The Lover so an obligatory huge thank you to the author for writing it.)
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Eddie »

Hi everyone.

I edited music, other art (auditory), and myths. I wrote most questions in these categories, notwithstanding music contributions from John Lawrence, Nick Jensen, Taylor Harvey, and Yale A; other art contributions from John Lawrence, Nick Jensen, and Taylor Harvey; and myths contributions from Nick Jensen, Ganon Evans, Cornell A, and UNC B. Nick Jensen, in addition to his head editorship, was also magnanimous enough to effectively take over question writing and subject editing during an unforeseen five-month disappearance of mine, not unlike that of Telipinu (Prelims 2, B19). I am also thankful towards the many playtesters and proofreaders, who gave helpful feedback in clue selection and prose selection. I am still meditating on my feelings towards the difficulty of these categories, but in the meantime, I am curious about the following.

The following tossups had unexpected buzz distributions, for which I would be interested in hearing firsthand player experience reports.
  • There was a 67% neg rate for piano quintet (Playoffs 4, TU4), with four negs at the following bolded word:
    Like his string sextet, that A-major Dvořák piece in this genre has back-to-back dumka and furiant movements.
  • There was a 46% neg rate for symphony for band (Playoffs 3, TU15), with four negs at the following bolded phrase:
    A “grande” piece in this genre subtitled “funèbre et triomphale” was written by Hector Berlioz.
  • There were two first-line buzzes for Grieg (Playoffs 2, TU18) on the following bolded phrase:
    This composer’s piano sonata begins with the descending cryptogrammic motif “E, B, G” in quarter notes,
  • There was a 40% neg rate for Billy the Kid (Prelims 7, TU11), with four negs at the following bolded phrase:
    …this ballet, which incorporates traditional tunes like “Goodbye Old Paint” and “Git Along, Little Dogies.”
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Eddie wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:18 pm [*] There was a 67% neg rate for piano quintet (Playoffs 4, TU4), with four negs at the following bolded word:
Like his string sextet, that A-major Dvořák piece in this genre has back-to-back dumka and furiant movements.
I had to restrain myself from buzzing here because I knew "dumka" sounded like "Dumky" as in "Dumky Trio", but "they couldn't possibly have" put that there if "trio" were the answer. I imagine other people... did not do that.
Eddie wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:18 pm [*] There was a 46% neg rate for symphony for band (Playoffs 3, TU15), with four negs at the following bolded phrase:
A “grande” piece in this genre subtitled “funèbre et triomphale” was written by Hector Berlioz.
I negged this in a momentary confusion, recalling that the piece was a memorial to people who died in the July Revolution and mis-completing the title as "Grande messe funèbre et triomphale." Even if I had remembered the "symphonie" part properly to earn a prompt, I think I would have just said something like "...spelled with an 'i-e' at the end?" after being prompted.

Can't speak to the other two, but with zero evidence I'd suspect nonzero people heard American West-sounding traditional tune names and just picked the wrong Copland ballet (Rodéo, perhaps).
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by cwasims »

I thought the music in this set was well done, although in my opinion fell a bit short of my favourite Nats music sets (from 2018 and 2022). The cluing from instrumentation/orchestration clues was, in my view, a bit excessive compared to other kinds of (score) clues, although I may be biased in this respect given that I find these clues harder to place and buzz on. I enjoyed the bonus content quite a bit, and was particularly glad to see content like Mieczysław Weinberg and Poulenc's Gloria come up.

Commenting on two of the questions mentioned:
Eddie wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:18 pm [*] There was a 46% neg rate for symphony for band (Playoffs 3, TU15), with four negs at the following bolded phrase:
A “grande” piece in this genre subtitled “funèbre et triomphale” was written by Hector Berlioz.
I negged much earlier with "wind quintet" - I remembered from Jeremy Cummings's DECAF that Wine Dark Sea was some kind of piece for wind - but I think on this clue I might have negged with "march", mistaking the Berlioz title for Schubert's Grande Marche Funèbre.
Eddie wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:18 pm [*] There were two first-line buzzes for Grieg (Playoffs 2, TU18) on the following bolded phrase:
This composer’s piano sonata begins with the descending cryptogrammic motif “E, B, G” in quarter notes,
I was a bit surprised to see this clue as the first line, I learned about this clue for the first time in the program notes to a piano concert years ago (in Bergen, no less!) but I've encountered it since and it's quite memorable due to the cryptogram being very straightforward. I'm not surprised that another player was also able to buzz here. Similarly, I thought the second line of the Brahms piano concertos tossup was was a well-known clue, I would be curious if that elicited a lot of buzzes.
Last edited by cwasims on Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Eddie »

Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 8:59 am At times, this set’s comprehensive answerlines -- presumably included to make life easier for moderators -- seemed to make life harder for them. As an answerline grows, it becomes more possible to overlook an instruction, fail to spot that a prompt is directed, delay a round by pausing to read carefully, etc. A point comes when you’re adding stuff like, say, Proto-Indo-European reconstructions, that won’t matter in 99% of cases such that the little costs outweigh the little benefits. A habit of asking "how likely is it that someone will actually give this answer?" and trusting the protest procedure to handle edge cases may improve playability sometimes. When packets get posted, I’ll look through to see if there are illustrative examples.
Are you thinking of the following answer line?
Playoffs 3, TU16 wrote: ANSWER: earth [or ground, land, soil, or equivalents; accept field or farm; reject “rock” or “stone”] (The epithet is *pl̥th₂éwih₂ (“pult-HEH-wee”), or “broad one.”)
The PIE epithet was part of the endnote, so it shouldn't have affected gameplay or game speed. Other than this, I don't recall any other answer lines in PIE. Though, I agree with you in principle that it's usually so unlikely of an answer that it does not warrant inclusion.

❦ ❦ ❦
forrestw wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 10:37 am --Lots and lots of questions were "description acceptable" or "specific term required", (which you can start to hear me complain about in the recordings lol)--I also felt that many of these were unnecessary. For example, did the Moanin' tossup, like, intend to neg players for saying "moaning" or something? Would that be an answer someone would even reasonably give? These tags, instructions to read the answer carefully, etc, slow down the round, and as they accumulated throughout the weekend they definitely started to annoy me.
The answer line was as follows.
Playoffs 5, TU13 wrote: ANSWER: moanin’ [accept moaning; prompt on Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers until read by asking “what is the more common title?”]
The intent here was to reject "moan", "moaned", "moaner", "bemoan", and so on. In hindsight, this does seem like a needless caution to have taken, and I agree with you.

❦ ❦ ❦
forrestw wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 10:37 am The only criticism I have is that, other than the bonus on the early music revival, I can't remember a question covering content before 1700. I'm curious if this was an intentional distributional choice, a quirk of packetization, a flaw in my memory, etc., but as early music is one of my favorite subject areas I was disappointed to not see any tossups on even the early Baroque period or something like that.
Music before 1700 featured in the following: Corelli, Venice / Monteverdi / Strozzi, organ / early / Innsbruck, cantata / motet / Poulenc, galant / Sweden / chapel, mode / Romanos / canon, rondeau / Couperin / bar line. Of these, only Corelli, Venice / Monteverdi / Strozzi, organ / early / Innsbruck, and mode / Romanos / canon were wholly on music before 1700. In hindsight, I agree with you that this was quite the small amount; speaking from experience, I usually try to make sure there's enough Classical-era content, and it seems this time this goal was achieved at the expense of pre-Classical content.

❦ ❦ ❦
rhn26 wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 5:56 pm …and I certainly applaud the overall accessibility-focused approach to this category, rather than a tossup on the Nth obscure modern composer that might’ve happened 15 years ago. Thanks again!
*hides in Unsuk Chin (Finals play-in, TU14)*
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Eddie wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:51 pm Are you thinking of the following answer line?
Playoffs 3, TU16 wrote: ANSWER: earth [or ground, land, soil, or equivalents; accept field or farm; reject “rock” or “stone”] (The epithet is *pl̥th₂éwih₂ (“pult-HEH-wee”), or “broad one.”)
The PIE epithet was part of the endnote, so it shouldn't have affected gameplay or game speed. Other than this, I don't recall any other answer lines in PIE. Though, I agree with you in principle that it's usually so unlikely of an answer that it does not warrant inclusion.
This inspired a comment from the moderator in our room which (a) I interpreted to mean that the PIE was an underlined accepted answer (b) was probably inflected with some amount of exhaustion from many earlier rounds. This answer line is fine, and the added editor's note doesn't seem egregious. Again, I'll be better able to comment on this once the set is posted and I can see the answer lines; till then, I'd be curious to hear from a staffer directly.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by etotheipi »

Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 7:15 pm
Eddie wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:51 pm Are you thinking of the following answer line?
Playoffs 3, TU16 wrote: ANSWER: earth [or ground, land, soil, or equivalents; accept field or farm; reject “rock” or “stone”] (The epithet is *pl̥th₂éwih₂ (“pult-HEH-wee”), or “broad one.”)
The PIE epithet was part of the endnote, so it shouldn't have affected gameplay or game speed. Other than this, I don't recall any other answer lines in PIE. Though, I agree with you in principle that it's usually so unlikely of an answer that it does not warrant inclusion.
This inspired a comment from the moderator in our room which (a) I interpreted to mean that the PIE was an underlined accepted answer (b) was probably inflected with some amount of exhaustion from many earlier rounds. This answer line is fine, and the added editor's note doesn't seem egregious. Again, I'll be better able to comment on this once the set is posted and I can see the answer lines; till then, I'd be curious to hear from a staffer directly.
I didn't find the long answerlines particularly annoying or painful to parse; however, this at least partially has to do with the fact that I never staffed alone, and especially toward the end of the tournament the staffer who wasn't reading started taking care of the work of answerline-judging (especially in cases of difficult answerlines) - this made things flow pretty smoothly, I think. Not sure if this is common practice but don't see why it shouldn't be if it isn't.

The only problem I really had as a moderator was with the excess of pronunciation guides. Perhaps this is because I'm less experienced, but I find that pronunciation guides really interfere with the flow of a sentence for me, especially when I do not know the pronunciation guide is there before I read the actual word (e.g. if the pronunciation guide gets shunted to the next line - nothing the editors can control, given how MODAQ works). It felt like there were a number of deeply unnecessary pronunciation guides to me, both in that they were on words that were very unlikely to be pronounced wrong (an example from round 1 is "Mersenne") and that they were on words whose mispronunciation was unlikely to affect comprehension by the player ("Froissart" or "xoanon"). In my opinion, an ideal pronunciation guide is one that falls into neither of these categories - the word is probably going to be mispronounced, and its mispronunciation is likely to affect player comprehension ("Niels Lyhne"). Another good use of pronunciation guides would be for words a reader is likely to get to and have no idea how to even attempt a pronunciation of ("xwedodah").

I think the most unpleasant cases in this regard were largely made up by long Spanish names - the longer a pronunciation guide is, the more it interferes with the flow of a sentence, and I feel like it is extremely unlikely that pronouncing an "ll" as a "l," or any of the other mispronunciations that come from pronouncing Spanish as one would English, would actually make it that much harder for the player to figure out what is being talked about.

This is just a minor quibble; I thought the set as a whole seemed pretty brilliant from my perspective.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Eddie »

Eddie wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:18 pm The following tossups had unexpected buzz distributions, for which I would be interested in hearing firsthand player experience reports.
If I may belatedly and somewhat indulgently add one more to this:
  • There was a 33% neg rate for Draupadī (Playoffs 5, TU14), with five negs at the following bolded phrase:
    This character’s svayaṃvara ends with the selection of the only man to shoot an arrow through a golden fish’s eye.
(The only thing I can think of is that people didn't know what a svayaṃvara was and negged with Arjuna, but I was hoping to have specifically mitigated this with the phrasing "the selection of the only man".)
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by linpaws »

This character’s […] the only man to shoot an arrow through a golden fish’s eye.
I think this is clue is confusing at game speed (I believe our opponents negged with Arjuna; perhaps they heard the version above). It would probably be good to insert the phrase “another character” somewhere, or just write “this woman” at that point.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Chimango Caracara »

Thank you to everyone who made ACF Nationals possible this year. While working on the set over the past nine months, I dreaded the weekend of the tournament. I often felt inadequate to the responsibility of editing a national championship, and I’m grateful to all of my co-editors and the scores of proofreaders, packet writers, playtesters, freelancers, moderators, and logisticians who supported me throughout the process and reminded me that even if I wasn’t cut out to edit ACF Nationals, I still had to see it through. Helping to moderate the tournament this weekend was an incredible relief and joy. I was constantly impressed by the knowledge displayed by teams who ended up in all four brackets and by the positive competitive spirit that made each match feel exciting but amicable. I hope that everyone found the set intellectually stimulating and rewarding despite the high difficulty, which I’d like to apologize for. If anyone felt discouraged by the set or regretted their decision to play because it ended up too hard, I hope that you’ll give future ACF events another chance and trust future editors to achieve a fairer difficulty.

Credits

Here’s a list of the editors and their categories:
Jordan Brownstein- European and World Literature, Philosophy
Jason Golfinos- Religion, Social Science
Nick Jensen- World and Other History, Geography, Current Events, Other Academic
Aseem Keyal- Painting & Sculpture, Other Fine Arts (Visual)
Eddie Kim- Classical Music, Other Fine Arts (Auditory), Mythology
Joseph Krol- Physics, Other Science (Math)
Stephen Liu- American and British Literature, Other Fine Arts (Film)
Grant Peet- American and European History
Elle Settle- Other Science (minus Math)
Kevin Wang- Biology and Chemistry

In addition, we had three advisors to keep us in line: ACF Editor-in-Chief Matt Bollinger, John Lawrence, and Eric Mukherjee.

I think the biggest strength of this year’s editing team was its intellectual diversity. While some of my co-editors may want to write their own posts about their “visions,” I’d like to briefly highlight some of the virtues I value in each of their writing and try to incorporate into my own.

If any editor has inherited the mantle of Gianni Agnelli’s sprezzatura, it’s Jordan, who expends seemingly no effort to write elegant, self-evidently cool common links that tie together canon staples with books that are overdue to receive some time in the spotlight. Like Jordan, I often try to execute “ideas”-forward questions based on original conceits, although I can only wish that mine came together half as well as his.

Jason, probably the editor closest to my own heart in interests and sensibilities, embodies two essential traits for editors: an iconoclastic streak and a willingness to overrule one’s own instincts. In his first-ever subject editing job for ACF, Jason brought an infectious passion to two categories that often feel stale and gave them an expansive spin while constantly challenging himself to make his questions more accessible and carving out space for standard topics that remain worth knowing. I also appreciated Jason’s regular ~second-line buzzes and bonus 30s for demonstrating to other editors that my history questions weren’t (completely) impossible during internal playtesting, although perhaps that wasn’t a good thing.

I don’t think anyone took the responsibility of editing a national championship more seriously than Aseem, who voluntarily rewrote and subbed out several of his (perfectly good) questions in order to better represent the breadth of human artistry. With a holistic vision of what is important in the history of art from museums, textbooks, and coursework, Aseem has an uncanny ability to identify blind spots in the quizbowl canon and fill them with satisfying questions on topics that feel so essential it’s hard to believe they haven’t been tossed up before.

After apparently saving up several clever yet accessible question ideas for years, Eddie proceeded to write them, immediately correct any minor flaws, and finish over half of his questions before the rest of us had even gotten a single packet done. Eddie’s questions aren’t always the flashiest, but it’s already clear they’re some of the most loved by players. It’s an important reminder that some of the most meaningful questions can come from seemingly standard starting points by imbuing them with excellent clues.

Joseph has the rare ability to make material that seems to come up so often your eyes glaze over feel new and vital again. His were the categories I know least about, but they felt consistently engaging and made me want to revisit basic topics and actually understand them instead of being satisfied with knowing that they exist.

It sometimes feels like quizbowl cheapens topics by commodifying them for points. Stephen’s questions demonstrate that it’s also a way to celebrate and appreciate human culture. It always feels like Stephen approaches books and films on their own terms and finds the key details that would stick in the mind of a fan. Unlike some of us who are guilty of knowingly padding questions with the occasional weak filler, Stephen has a good reason for including every clue he crafts, even if it’s not immediately apparent until you suggest a possible change.

The epiphany surprised me more than anyone, but I think Grant is the editor who has influenced me the most over the past few years. Grant’s questions often shine a light on underappreciated historical figures and highlight the importance of individual agency and historical contingency. I tried to incorporate these lessons into the world history category in particular, because too often I think that it asks about historical states in a way that makes them seem static and unchanging and flattens the competing personalities of their inhabitants.

Elle was undoubtedly the most rigorous editor, maintaining running lists of sources and setting the bar for precise, clearly worded clues that “didn’t lie” to players. The self-proclaimed “character count cop” did a better job than the head editor at fact-checking, enforcing standards, and diligently reworking questions into better versions.

While Kevin and I only sometimes favor similar bio topics, his questions always feel like they come from a similar place to many of mine- learning a strange fact about the world and wanting to find out more. Kevin’s unerring eye for unique, memorable clues reminds us that quizbowl is all about curiosity.

Whether from instinct or years of editing, Matt is an authoritative judge of when a question needs to be easier and when a shot is worth taking. I’m grateful for his efforts to ensure that the set didn’t turn out any harder than it did.

Eric reminded us of a lesson that was very difficult for me to learn over the years- quizbowl is a game and we need to reward people who put in the time to improve; learning from packets is still learning and it doesn’t serve anyone well to try to hinder it. In some ways, I think Eric has one of the most egalitarian visions for quizbowl because he celebrates the ability of any player to work hard and master the canon without relying on a preexisting knowledge base.

John has always been one of my biggest influences as an editor, and it was an (intimidating) honor to have someone on whom nothing is lost looking over our questions. The music, philosophy, and literature in particular benefited from his keen eye and would have ended up even harder without him.

I don’t want to clog up this post by boring anyone with my ideas about my own categories. Perhaps it’s my Midwestern background, or memories of the forums a decade ago, but posting my unqualified opinions on the internet makes me deeply uncomfortable. Briefly, I tried to correct some of my past flaws in editing these categories and devote more space to colonial-era history and tossups on older periods. I also tried to approach history writing with a bit more rigor than I have in the past, although I undoubtedly let some sloppy clues through and I apologize for them in advance. World history in particular ended up one of the more difficult bonus categories, so I’ll apologize for that as well.

I don’t think anyone besides my co-editors was as important to the success of the set as the proofreaders: Tomás Aguilar-Fraga, Jacob Egol, Michael Kearney, JinAh Kim, Ophir Lifshitz, Jonathan Magin, Adam Silverman, and Abigail Tan. Thanks to them, questions read smoothly and many opaque clues were rewritten for clarity. Jonathan Magin in particular often provided several insightful comments that improved the execution of individual questions. Eddie, Ophir, and Jacob added the bulk of our pronunciation guides, with Eddie earning the majority of credit for filling them out during the playtestesting process. (I’m sorry that we had some unnecessary ones; I agree that some of my questions, like Quito, had way too many and it was my fault for being unable to judge properly when PGs are warranted.)

While we received a relatively small number of freelance questions, many were among the best questions in the set. Thanks to Matt Bollinger, Billy Busse, Ganon Evans, Zach Foster, Taylor Harvey, Michael Kearney, JinAh Kim, John Lawrence, Jonathan Magin, Caroline Mao, Jack Mehr, Eric Mukherjee, Will Nediger, Ryan Rosenberg, and Adam Silverman for their contributions. I did a poor job at soliciting and managing freelance contributions and I hope that future editors are more successful. I’m grateful that the aforementioned freelancers were still motivated enough to write even though I dropped the ball on coordinating between them and editors.

Thank you to all the packet writers for providing us with question material, even if it was sometimes only inspiration.

Thank you to our playtesters, Henry Atkins, Billy Busse, Jaimie Carlson, Iain Carpenter, Jacob Egol, Ganon Evans, Zach Foster, William Golden, Taylor Harvey, Hasna Karim, Michael Kearney, JinAh Kim, Evan Knox, Emmett Laurie, Ophir Lifshitz, Tracy Mirkin, Mitch McCullar, Will Nediger, Dan Ni, Hari Parameswaran, Tejas Raje, Ryan Rosenberg, Adam Silverman, Kevin Thomas, Chandler West, and Walter Zhang. Playtesters weren’t right about everything (e.g. apparently no one knew the Rosselló Telegram clue), but they were right about a lot (e.g. Zhang Qian was too hard as a medium and the clouds part was hopelessly easy even with more obfuscation).

Thank you to tournament director Michael Kearney, assistant TDs Zac Bennett and Jacob Egol, the protest committee, and the many moderators and other staff who ran the tournament efficiently. I hope that our questions weren’t unduly frustrating to read and I’m sorry if any of them were.

Scattered thoughts about the set

Probably the most notable change from last year was a systematic attempt to make easy parts hit 90% rather than 100% conversion and meaningfully differentiate teams.. Some of them turned out well, others just confused everyone. We did try to avoid easy parts that relied on guessing an obvious answer rather than knowing the clues, but in some cases the attempts to provide easy but non-trivial clues produced easy parts that functionally relied on knowing it was the easy part. It also seemed like parts that had a single easy clue were too easy to miss. Ophir reminded us a few times during playtesting to make our easy parts sound more like easy parts (in part by making the language less concise), but we didn’t take his advice enough.

The length caps were a pain to meet (ca. 750 for bonuses and 850 for tossups), but I think we all appreciated them on the weekend of the tournament, and I would encourage future editors to implement similar caps.

We did try to avoid writing directed prompts that furnished additional clues, although in some cases (like realignment) it felt like there was basically no alternative.

While I wasn’t systematic enough about it, I tried to account for complicated answerlines by marking questions with an asterisk on thes spreadsheet and trying to balance them out across and within packets with more straightforward questions. I’m sorry that those efforts fell short.

Personal note

I’ve come a long way from ruining ACF Nationals in 2014 to editing it a decade later … I was touched by John Lawrence’s Carper oration, because it had never occurred to me that such an august figure could have had his own redemption arc. I would like to thank ACF for giving me a chance to turn my negative contributions around when I felt like a pariah. I’ve thanked some of their members before, but I will also always be grateful to the Berkeley and Stanford clubs for showing me a less hostile quizbowl community and encouraging me to start playing and writing again in 2019.

Editing Nationals was an immense honor and enormously creatively fulfilling, but it was also disastrous for almost every other part of my life. Admittedly, I knew that would be the case going in. While I have more question ideas than I know what to do with, I don’t think I can continue to commit to major editing projects in the way that I have the past few years. I’m not sure if I will remain involved in quizbowl after CO, but if I do it will have to be in a reduced capacity. Right now, I mostly just regret that I didn't do enough to make Nationals accessible to the majority of the field and I'm sorry that it tarnished the experience.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Chimango Caracara »

Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 8:59 am
  • Across all categories, I noticed much more content about China than past ACF sets have had, i.e. 1-2 questions in every packet*, most of it from well before the 20th century. I don’t object to this; while pre-modern Chinese history/culture isn’t an especial strength of mine, there are thousands of years to draw on, and the country has about a sixth of the world’s population, and a growing share of players learn about it in-depth in school or through their heritage. It was a pretty noticeable and unannounced shift, though, so I’m curious: how intentional was this emphasis? Does it represent an explicit vision for the future of the canon / what players should expect to study? Is there a list of these questions, or a count?
    • (*including many questions with heavy focus on China’s relationships with neighboring powers: medieval Pyongyang, Le Loi, invasion of Baekje bonus, etc)
There wasn't a quota, but for my history/other categories together I aimed to have around 1+ question per packet on Africa, Latin America, and Asia (including West/Central/South/East/Southeast Asia), with many packets having 2 Asian history questions (and a couple with two African ones). I allocated 7/7 across world and other history for East Asia (plus occasional overlapping questions from other nominal regions like Le Loi). I can't predict what future editors will do, but I do think Chinese history is a vast topic that could afford broader coverage than it often gets- we already get four European history and literature questions per packet, and they often cover topics that aren't necessarily immediately familiar to the player base, so ~1 Chinese history/literature/etc per packet seems fair to me.

The second point you raise, highlighting the interactions between various Chinese states and neighboring peoples, was a deliberate focus of mine (although the bonus you mention was primarily about Baekje's relationship with early Japan and the Chinese clue was a bit ancillary). I think Chinese history in quizbowl often feels siloed off from the rest of the world and presented as a linear succession of dynasties and I wanted to deviate from that model a bit.
Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 8:59 am
  • Round 1: The notion that oysters were “once considered a ‘poor man’s food’” in what’s now the eastern U.S. is also very true of lobsters. (Though the tossup had already said “namesake beds” and lobsters don’t really have those.) Cool question overall, though!
I'm very sorry about that clue clue- it was a late addition and it was entirely my fault that I forgot to exclude lobsters.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by aseem.keyal »

I'm very grateful to have been given the chance to edit the Painting & Sculpture and the non-Film Visual Other Fine Arts for this year's Nationals. I'm proud of the set that my co-editors produced: it was amazing to see teams answer their innovative and well-constructed questions this weekend.

I want to thank Michael Kearney, Zac Bennett, and Jacob Egol for their work directing the tournament and the staffers for making the event possible. The playtesters dedicated countless Thursday nights to helping us identify issues in pyramidality and clue selection, and my questions benefited greatly from their feedback. Finally, the proofreaders ensured that some of the tortured sentence constructions I relied on to meet length caps were rooted out and that everything read smoothly for moderators, which is a truly invaluable and often thankless job, so I appreciate their work very much.

Nick set an incredibly high standard as head editor for the set. He was meticulous and proactive on every aspect of set production, from setting and communicating deadlines to providing feedback. Every time I posted a question in the set production Discord, I could count on detailed feedback on what worked and didn't work, along with extremely helpful suggestions and clue ideas. His questions on lacquering in Asian art, animals in medieval and ancient art, and the Eight Eccentrics were interesting and well executed questions in areas I would've struggled with. Nick was also very understanding during periods when my motivation and confidence dipped; his encouragement helped me finish strong and improved the state of my categories. The amount of work that Nick put into the set truly astonished me, and I'm glad I was able to work with him.

My co-editors provided very helpful feedback on my questions. Every editor contributed in some way to my questions, but I want to highlight Stephen Liu, Jordan Brownstein, Kevin Wang, and Editor in Chief Matt Bollinger for their feedback, which was extensive and greatly reflected in the final product. I also want to thank my brother Rahul, who not only helped support me throughout the production process but was also available to discuss my questions in minute detail. Rahul also suggested multiple clues that made it into the final set, such as for the photography tossup on Japan and the Painting & Sculpture tossup on Horatio Nelson.

I ended up using 7 submissions in my categories, with about half of those being converted from a tossup to a bonus or vice versa. Columbia A's tossup on water lilies, Yale B's tossup on Untitled Film Stills, and Minnesota A's tossup on the Spiral group (which was turned into a bonus due to distributional reasons) were standouts, but there were also a lot of great questions I couldn't use due to subdistribution, and I'd encourage teams to ask for feedback on their submissions.

My approach to writing visual art isn't based on a philosophy but a loose collection of impulses and emphases, so I will stick to numbers. Based on the advanced stats, I could've edited the Painting & Sculpture to be a notch easier, especially the tossups. The category had a conversion of 78 percent and the average buzz position ended up being 17th out of the 22 subcategories. The tossups on San Marco, Alice Neel, and South Africa were the main culprits: they were understandably challenging for players and if I were to have a second chance I would end up swapping 1 or 2 of those with some of the easier, unplayed tossups. The category did have the 6th highest bonus conversion, but the E/M/H conversion numbers were 87/42/6, which definitely could've been closer to the 90/50/10 target. An observation for future editors: the conversion for the World Art (lion hunt, Djenné, etc) was higher than expected, while the conversion for some upper canon level, title recognition-based Western Art was lower than expected (Alexandre, Girodet, Utrecht, Die Brücke).

In terms of conversion, the Visual Other Fine Arts I produced was a mixed bag. The tossups generally played a little hard (85% conversion) and there were significant divergences in how some of the bonuses played out (Constructivism & the Zwirner bonus vs the Eggleston and Djenné bonus). It's clear that the calibration could've been better here.

Those are the numbers, but I am very interested in how players received my categories and how they felt to play. This was my first time editing an ACF tournament and the experience taught me a lot. I'm so thankful to the quiz bowl community to be given this opportunity. Please reach out to me either here or on Discord/email/FB messenger if you have any thoughts about my questions. Thanks everyone!
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

aseem.keyal wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2024 1:18 pmconverted from a tossup to a bonus or vice versa.
...
The tossup... on... Alice Neel... [was] understandably challenging for players
If I'm not mistaken, this tossup was converted from a hard part in our submitted packet. I'd buy that Alice Neel is a bit softball for a Nats hard part, but tossupifying it (if that is in fact what happened) stood out as quite a drastic change.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by aseem.keyal »

Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2024 3:03 pm
aseem.keyal wrote: Thu Apr 25, 2024 1:18 pmconverted from a tossup to a bonus or vice versa.
...
The tossup... on... Alice Neel... [was] understandably challenging for players
If I'm not mistaken, this tossup was converted from a hard part in our submitted packet. I'd buy that Alice Neel is a bit softball for a Nats hard part, but tossupifying it (if that is in fact what happened) stood out as quite a drastic change.
Yes, this was converted from a hard part into a tossup (although I'm not 100% clear on the timeline for whether I had the idea to toss her up before receiving your team's bonus). In my mind, Alice Neel with full information is closer to a Regionals hard part. This is admittedly a subjective impression based on museum exhibitions, art bookstores, and extrapolation on the kinds of artists the community is likely to study. So I chose her as the hardest Painting & Sculpture answer because I felt she was underasked until now. The playtesting results were also encouraging so I took a chance but the tossup ended up playing very hard.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Gene Harrogate »

One of my favorite qualities of this Nats was how well-researched and "real" all the content felt. It's also great that the editors tried to make easy parts do their job of distinguishing between teams -- and it's understandable that there were some hiccups along the way given that this hasn't been much of a point of emphasis in the past.

Having playtested the set, I suspect the easy parts that tended to give players the most trouble were conceptual answers that tested basic understanding of the topic but didn't give much in the way of concrete binaries onto which players could latch. To give an example (uninformed by conversion data, which I haven't seen) there was an easy part that went along the lines of "Mircea Eliade contrasted this forbidden concept with worldly spaces." (ANSWER: sacred). I imagine that in many previous sets this easy part would have been "Mircea Eliade contrasted this concept with the profane." In (very understandably) obscuring beyond simple word association, I suspect you end up with an easy part in which most players will vaguely understand the sort of thing that's being looked for, but will struggle to riddle out the answer, unless they have enough familiarity with Eliade to apply the right word. What looks like an ACF Fall-level answerline when you squint IMO ends up harder and more stochastic than asking for Eliade himself.

I think there are technical as well as (laudable) normative reasons why one might want to write this sort of easy part instead of "Name this Romanian philosopher of religion." On the other hand, it's my impression that more "conceptual" bonus parts introduce more friction between familiarity and conversion. Naturally, this friction is more striking in the data when the desired conversion rate is 90 percent and not 50 or 10. For future tournaments that shoot for non-trivial easy parts, it may be more forgiving to try for more "you-know-it-or-you-don't" easies. Even if a bonus part on, say, "Who wrote Giles Goat-Boy" accidentally overshoots as well and ends up being 80 percent instead of 90, I think it at least does the job of differentiating between teams with minimum randomness, as well as alleviating some of the cognitive load that adds up over 17 rounds of hard questions. Hopefully that wouldn't be too much of a concession away from the fantastic realness that characterized this Nats.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Santa Claus »

Hey, I edited the bio and chem for the set.

This was my first outing doing any work on an ACF project or being on the receiving end of packet sub; thanks to Nick for reaching out to me and for providing a lot of strict deadlines. I enjoyed this opportunity to give back to the community and I hope people enjoyed/tolerated my trademark whimsy and poor grasp of difficulty ;P

Somewhat less glibly: I tried quite hard to cover a broad swathe of topics, with some slight adjustments from past years. Bio had a little more of what I called "bigger than a cell" bio in my docs, as well as a deliberate effort to limit medicine-related content. Chem gave some more focus to analytical and separatory methods and industrial applications at the expense of organic chemistry. My hope was to deliver novel and interesting clue choices while keeping the middle of tossups buzzable and hard parts gettable, but it seems that it turned out a bit hard - bio went 87/26/13 and was both the lowest converted (74%) and most negged (29%) subcategory, while chem went 86/38/8.

Special thanks to Adam Silverman and Billy Busse for contributing the questions on surfactants and hemolysis. Also thanks to Eric, Nick, and the playtesting crew for their consistently useful feedback (and to Adam and Billy again!), as well as all the proofreaders.

6 bio questions and 4 chem were ultimately derived from submissions, with a clean 5/5 split (two chem submissions also ended up in other science categories). Lots of quality stuff wasn't able to be used because of overlaps - wanted to shout out a few for being good ideas that got straight-up preempted:
  • Columbia A's TU on Hückel in quantum chemical software
  • JHU's TU on clonality in B cells
  • WUSTL's bonus on the SLOSS debate
  • ASU's TU on the Diels-Alder reaction in biological contexts
  • Chicago A's bonus on single atom catalysts
  • Brown A's bonus on molecular dynamics
Wanted to also note that 5 out of 23 submitted chemistry tossups were on specific elements (3 specifically on iridium!) - curious.

Thanks again to Nick for being such a driving force on the set. Would love to hear any anecdotes about questions that aren't "negging clavicles with ribs" or "not getting prompted on membrane fusion".
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Fisher »

forrestw wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 10:37 am specific term required", (which you can start to hear me complain about in the recordings lol)--
Sorry if this is somewhere very obvious, but have the recordings been released yet? Is there a link to them?
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by krollo »

I greatly enjoyed editing the physics and maths for this set - I hope you all had a positive experience with the questions. Special thanks go to Nick, the other science editors, and the advisors on the set, as well as the proofreaders and playtesters.

One of my editorial emphases was trying to use a reasonable number of "practical" physics clues, addressing both experimental methods and how theoretical physics is practically applied. In this spirit one physics bonus part, and a couple of maths bonus parts, required teams to carry out a short calculation, which I hope was OK. In both physics and maths I made sure that there were clues rewarding engagement both with science history and with recent developments.

On average, physics bonuses were converted at 91% for the easy parts, 51% for the medium parts, and 10% for the hard parts. The physics tossups were converted at a slightly lower rate compared to the set average, but the correct buzzes were often comparatively early. The maths bonuses played slightly easier than the physics on average; the maths tossups had slightly higher conversion than the set average, and among the earlier average buzzpoints.

Out of 31 possible slots in the relevant packets in my categories, 25 questions were based on submissions in some way (plus a few more spare questions). I was pleased with the average submission quality; I would be happy to provide specific feedback if teams would like it.

Thanks again to everyone who made this tournament happen - once again, I hope it was enjoyable. Do let me know if you have any comments on the physics or maths.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by A Dim-Witted Saboteur »

My set-judging skills aren't what they used to be, but I'll hazard a post anyway:

I liked this set a lot. It felt as though it emphasized "interested amateur" knowledge over notions of what "the canon" should be in a way I thought meshed well with the spirit of the game, but without compromising the goal of rewarding specialist knowledge. World History, Auditory Fine Arts, and Religion felt especially well executed to me. The history subdistributions I am the most qualified to comment on felt like they struck a nice balance in rewarding engagement with historical scholarship without turning into "historiography bowl." Questions I recall especially liking included: Heraclius, Sierra Leone, the bonuses on West African food culture and hudud, and horns in pop music (pace an unfortunate neg on the last of these on my part).
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by VSCOelasticity »

Thank yous
Hello everyone! Thank you to everyone who played, staffed, or otherwise took part in making 2024 ACF Nationals happen!

I’d like to thank Nick for being such a great head editor. He provided extensive feedback on nearly every question I wrote that improved each question’s prose and playability. I also really appreciated him writing questions in my categories with cool clues & themes. Nick put a ton of time and effort into making this set great!

Also, I’d like to thank Joseph for being so easy to collaborate with, since two people editing in the same 1/1 has the potential to get a little tricky. Like Nick, he also wrote some questions in my category, and I enjoyed his choice of subject matter/clues.

I also want to say thank you to the playtesters, proofreaders, and advisors for their work on the set. Particularly, Eric, Dan, Billy, Ophir, and Adam’s input greatly improved my questions.

My Categories
I edited all of Other Science besides Mathematics. I did not have much of a set-specific editorial vision, besides the desire to avoid a “Jupiter moment”. The only thing I will say is that I increasingly feel that my “idea well” for quizbowl questions has run dry, and writing questions from scratch has become increasingly difficult. Because of that, I tried to use more submissions this year than last year, though distributional issues often prevented this. On that note: any team that would like feedback on questions they submitted in my category, please reach out to me on the forums (or discord if you are in the qb discord).

My distribution for the top-level categories within Other Science ended up being:
4/4 Astronomy
4/4 Computer Science
4/4 Earth Science
3/3 Engineering
2/2 Any Science: intended for cross-category science questions, but also could accommodate at most 1 question that belongs Astronomy, Computer Science, or Earth Science

If anyone would be interested in seeing the more fine grain breakdown, let me know.

Question Stats
Here’s a look at my takeaways from each of my questions from the buzzpoint & conversion data.
For bonuses, the question is indicated by the parts with difficulty labels. Below the 3 parts is the conversion data in the usual "easy part conversion/medium part conversion/hard part conversion" format.

Astronomy Tossups
  • stellar opacity: There was no buzz until a little over halfway through the question. The top-heavy pyramid of this question is a pattern throughout all of my tossups.
  • scale factor: I figured this would be tough, but I was surprised that its conversion rate was only 55%. Possibly due to the 30% neg rate, though.
  • white dwarfs: 42% neg rate, with 6 out of 10 negs clustered around the type Ia supernova clue. I’m curious as to what the player experience was here? Was that clue misleading? It and the sentence before it read: “Novas occur due to accretion onto one of these objects in cataclysmic variables. Mergers of two of these objects cause type Ia (“one-A”) supernovas.”
  • atmosphere of Venus: cliffed at phosphine. I misjudged the clue difficulty of the possible phosphine detection, and this could have used a harder middle clue/easier hard clue before that.
Astronomy Bonuses
  • (h) spectral index / (m) synchrotron radiation / (e) polarization
    100/18/5
    spectral index likely fine. I added “relativistic jets” to the synchrotron part because playtesters said it needed more, but it should have been more direct or just on a different answer line.
  • (h) initial mass functions / (m) star formation / (e) luminosity
    96/58/4
    pretty satisfied with this! Although not fair to teams that this medium undershot when most of them overshot difficulty.
  • (m) 21-centimeter line / (e) angular resolution / (h) aperture synthesis
    61/35/0
    The easy playing hard makes sense, as it might be more of a CO easy part as written. I think framing it in a generally optics way, not specific to astronomy, would have helped. A little surprised at the low conversion of 21-cm line. I must have just overestimated its canonicity, maybe due to it coming up more at the beginning of my playing career or something

Computer Science Tossups
  • pseudorandom number generation: no buzz until “initialization vectors”, which was more than halfway through the question. I should have broken the cryptography theme earlier.
  • number of clusters: played tough and had low conversion (58%), which I expected. I really enjoyed this submission and think it was a good way of testing knowledge of a very canonical fact of machine learning.
  • BQP: not a lot of early buzzes, but I had marked this one as the hardest tossup (a “{4}”), since it had not been asked for before. Was pleasantly surprised that it got 62% conversion!
  • lambda calculus: had the best buzz curve of the CS tossups! 96% conversion and a pretty pyramidal increase in buzzes after the clue about the Church–Rosser theorem.
Computer Science Bonuses
  • (m) spanning trees / (e) LANs / (h) CSMA
    63/38/4
    I shied away from a direct definition or naming Boruvka in the medium, but I probably should have done the latter. I was a bit surprised about LANs not being well-converted, but that is probably a generational divide that I didn’t realize?
  • (m) red-black trees / (h) left-leaning red-black trees / (e) big O of log n
    81/62/0
    The easy was maybe a bit of a stretch here, but closer than other ones at least (oof). The medium was a little too definitional, or I should have just chosen a different answer line, as increasing clue difficulty might have just changed the conversion rate to 30/40%. Probably should have gone in a different direction with the hard part, though sample size makes it a little hard to know for sure.
  • (m) ranking / (h) tf-idf / (e) Boolean algebra
    100/55/25
    The medium part played pretty well! But both the easy and the hard were too easy (I was warned about the hard part being too easy, though)

Earth Science Tossups
  • nucleation: I was worried about this being negged a lot, so only (lol) a 37% neg rate seems fair, or at least in line with my other tossups. The pyramid here looks pretty solid to me.
  • faults: another top-heavy tossup--the first 3 sentences were not buzzed on.
Earth Science Bonuses
  • (h) cosmogenic radionuclides / (e) carbon-14 / (m) alluvial fans
    92/33/0
    Again, hard medium and hard parts
  • (e) steady-state approximation / (h) turnover time / (m) dissolved inorganic carbon
    50/25/0
    Brutal bonus. Steady state too advanced of a concept to be an easy part, and the trend continues for the medium and hard.
  • (e) density / (h) Brunt–Väisälä frequency / (m) thermoclines
    90/45/10
    Finally some good numbers!!!!!! Framing this bonus
  • (e) biodegradable / (m) mineralization / (h) compatibility
    100% 10% 0%
    Oof

Engineering Tossups
  • corrosion: very top heavy. The first buzz didn’t occur until 61% of the way through the tossup. Bigger than desired cliff at the pre-ftp (which described putting samples in a saltwater fog) after the clue before it (that tied together pitting and passivation)—I think a full clue dedicated to passivation could have helped the cliff here.
  • dams: lots of negs around “Seepage control measures in these structures prevent embankment erosion. I have guesses on what let to those negs, but what was this tossup like to play?
Engineering Bonuses
  • (m) railroad tracks / (h) cant / (e) tangent
    76/8/4
    Oooooof. Railroad tracks was initially easier, but I replaced the easiest clue due to overlap with another category. I should not have kept it as a medium part. Some part of me just thought everyone had deep pockets of railroad knowledge I didn’t have, but I think I just made that up. A little surprised by the easy part, but I think framing the centripetal acceleration clue with like “in classical mechanics” or something could have helped people. Or maybe that formula just isn’t well known enough.
  • (e) Andrey Markov / (h) policy / (m) actuators
    75/50/10
    Markov was too hard, but just glad that the medium and hard weren’t impossible

No Any Science Tossups were played

Any Science Bonuses
  • (e) centrifuges / (m) DLLs / (h) SCADA
    85/45/0
    pretty pleased! i figured SCADA might overshoot (unlike my other hard parts, which I did not thnk were too hard), but I wanted to include it as a test of something extracanonical that seemed pretty important
  • (m) wear / (h) ground-penetrating radar / (e) point source
    71/8/0
    Oof.

Final Thoughts
I would deeply appreciate any feedback people are willing to provide! I do not (or very rarely will) attend quizbowl tournaments due to their lack of COVID precautions/masking, so I miss out on a lot of day-of feedback. I’d love to hear anything—good/bad/neutral/whatever!

None of my questions had a super high neg rate, but the overall neg rate was high: Other Science had a 25% average, with only World History (25%) and Biology (29%), matching or exceeding it. The neg rates of individual questions (besides corrosion) were consistently close to the average (low variance). How did the questions feel to play?

No lead-ins were buzzed on. Only one second sentence was buzzed on. I’m not sure that Nats needs to be made too much easier on the whole, but these Other Science categories could be a whole sentence easier and provide another clue in the middle somewhere to gradate teams better.

Pretty much tied for biology in average PPB (~12.6), both noticeably behind chemistry and physics. Overall split (including mathematics) was 85/36/6, though, seeing how well Joseph controlled the Physics bonus difficulty and how I failed to control my medium and hard part difficulty, my bonuses probably skewed much further from 90/50/10 than that summary statistic indicates. I’m sorry that I did not calibrate question difficulty better. Medium parts really need to be on much more canonical things that are answer lines more frequently. On top of that, easier clues should be used. Hard parts should also be more canonical.

I have some speculations about Other Science difficulty, but I think those thoughts are best saved for a different post. I'd really like to hear how it felt to play these questions because it's hard to form good conclusions from just looking at numbers.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by VSCOelasticity »

Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 8:59 am
  • Playoffs 3: The tossup on BQP (bounded-error quantum polynomial) complexity mentioned Scott Aaronson very early; Aaronson is also a pretty prominent blogger and online cultural critic that many people without any science knowledge run across, and he advertises at the top of his blog that his main expertise is quantum computing, so I ended up sitting through several lines of science clues I didn’t understand wondering if there was any other answer it could have been. If the intent of that clue was to signal something like “if you know who Scott Aaronson is, fyi your answer should be the quantum one” then that’s all well and good, though it runs counter to science editors’ typical reticence to give non-science players any ins.
I agree, and I was a little worried his name was too early in my first draft. However, no internal or external playtester said anything about it, so I thought I did not move his name down. In fact, one person only knew him as a more general complexity theorist due to his "zoo" thing.

Also, I don't mind cluing things that are accessible to people who don't typically consider themselves science players--in fact I like doing that (in moderation)!
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by candidyeast »

I had a great time at my first ACF Nationals. Many thanks to the moderators and fellow players (especially everyone from Cornell) for your help and encouragement! I couldn't have imagined a better introduction to quizbowl this year. I don't think I've played quite enough quizbowl to comment too much on the set, but I enjoyed many of the history, literature, and linguistics questions and I want to express my thanks to the editors and writers for putting all of this together as well as provide some feedback.

I really enjoyed this set's inclusion of perhaps more obscure pre-modern history. The kara tossup may be my favorite history question in the set (although I negged, which is purely my fault for not concentrating) with its Central Asia content and novel choice of answer line. In a similar vein I also very much liked the tossups on Phrygia (also neg), Pyongyang, and Tibetan (technically literature), as well bonus parts on Benjamin Constant (although not pre-modern) and logothete.

I do want to comment on the China content in this set. I may be biased as I am probably one of the biggest beneficiaries of its increase in representation, but I have to praise these questions as I think many of them have genuinely put a spin on how Chinese history and literature are presented in the quizbowl I've encountered in a way that feels interesting and novel. Some examples I can think of include the bonus parts on tǔsī, frontiers, and guān (Shijing question) as well as the Duke of Zhou and Baoyu's stone tossups. I also really appreciate the historiographic clues in the Qing and Yellow River tossups, whose inclusion I thought was a great way to introduce some rewarding complexity to more common answer lines (new Qing History and Doubting Antiquity are also very relevant to discussions about Chinese national identity today and I can sense the deep cultural knowledge of the people who worked on these tossups through these questions). The questions highlighting interactions between different East Asian cultures are also very well-written and motivates me to learn more about the things being clued.

The only question I have complaints about now is the junks tossup. The boats the Tanka people live in (the clue I buzzed on) aren't exactly "vessels with watertight bulkheads and battened rigs" described in the giveaway. In fact, I don't think any clues up to Tanka exclusively clue "vessels with watertight bulkheads and battened rigs" (I may be wrong on this). Given that these are the type of ships that people usually conjure up in their minds when thinking of the word junk, I don't think it's reasonable to be asking for junks specifically while the first three clues are only marginally associated with them. Besides, since chuán, Mandarin for simply boat or ship, is accepted (as well as a few other ways to say boat in Sinitic languages), I don't see why it has to be specifically the word junk, especially that the word junk might have ultimately come from some cognate of chuán as well (although there is some controversy on that). Still, I think this is a very interesting question with a great selection of clues, all of my quibbles have to do with the choice of answer line (although I am curious about the distribution of buzzes for this question). Thanks again for all the work put into this set!
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Jem Casey »

Aseem assembled the buzzpoints and set up a website here (thanks Aseem!). Please notify either of us of errata; we'll forward the stats to Ryan for upload to College Quizbowl Stats once any issues have been sorted out.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Many thanks!

Perhaps more #DataDrivenInsights to come later, but a cursory glance reminds me that I disliked the "Western Schism" tossup. Calling it a "conflict" (rather than, I suppose, a "dispute" or an "issue" or a "time period") may have been both Cute and Clever, but apparently threw off basically the entire field into thinking it'd be a war for the duration of the tossup (with the early mention of "Owain Glyndŵr" pinning down the time period pretty narrowly to boot).
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Gene Harrogate »

It's striking to me that the literature categories had the four latest average buzzpoints among the set's tossups, and were generally near the bottom last year as well. I'd be curious to hear more thoughts as to whether this set's lit felt unusually difficult, or was in some way typical of the 4 dot lit experience. Should editors be more generous with early clues? Or are sets generally hitting the right difficulty to distinguish top bracket teams?
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by cwasims »

To revive some discussion about this set and not just the players who played it, I thought the social science in this set was great overall. As probably evidenced by my buzzpoint, my favourite clue in the set was the firstline of the Japan tossup cluing Hayami and Ruttan's work (the book is in my office!) which is honestly something I never expected to come up in QB despite its major importance in the field. The rest of the econ was well-done too, and there was a pretty sizable amount in contrast to previous Nationals where I have found the field to be quite underrepresented (in particular 2021 and 2023), which was especially jarring in those two years with question topics that tended to be pretty disconnected from modern research. My only complaint was a lack of clues about (recent) empirical economics - it's hard to overstate how massive the methodological transition in economics has been in the last twenty or so years, and it would have been nice to feature a bit more of this material in the set.

On the topic of distribution, my main comment would be that there seemed to be a pretty severe dearth of psychology content: I suppose the ambiguity tossup was classified as psychology, there were some psychology clues in the ANOVA tossup (and scattered throughout a few other tossups) and a few bonuses, but I imagine that someone who was very excited about this category would have been disappointed by this set. When I've edited ACF sets, I aim roughly for 25% economics and 25% psychology; maybe some people think this is a lot, but I am of the view these two fields are the largest and most prominent of the social sciences and deserve a substantial share of the questions.

I think a few of the social science questions in this year's set would have been better classified as "Other Academic" or some other category: in particular the tossup on caste discrimination seems to have been almost entirely buzzed on based on the current events-type clues (which make up a substantial portion of the question) as opposed to the ones on scholarship. I think something similar could apply to the On War tossup, although perhaps present-day academia engages with that text more than I realize. Given how small the category already is to cover such a wide variety of fields, I think there should be a bit more thought behind whether these questions on topics of more historical interest or current events/Modern World can be slotted in elsewhere.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by ivvone »

In the categories I paid attention to (AFA, Biology, some statistics and VFA), I thought the difficulty was generally well controlled and there were some interesting topics brought up. I especially enjoyed the Ysaÿe TU, Bach chaconne TU, habitat fragmentation TU, and the number of clusters TU. I would have enjoyed more of the TUs (such as symphony for wind band and more biology qs) if Eric Gunter and Rasheeq Azad didn't get them so early.

I'm a very narrow specialist--in any tournament, the questions I really look forward to are the opera and musical theatre questions. I was sad not to play Round 2, which had the only musical theatre TU we heard in the tournament (Follies) which I thought was also excellent (I love the Sondheim musical!) The opera content in this set was generally fine. I thought the Peter Grimes TU was well-written with great clues, the kind of question I'd point to as an example of a good opera question. I wasn't a fan of the dance/ballet clues in the Carmen TU, though the first line sounded familiar and therefore is probably pretty famous, and the fate motif score clue is important. The Vivaldi/Adonis/Beggar's Opera bonus was super cool, though it seems to rely on AFA knowledge rather than knowledge that someone would get from liking 18th century opera. As a knower of opera and a mid AFA player, I was hesitant on all of these except the [h], which I only knew from writing questions.

I LOST MY MIND at the opera bonus cluing female, Eastern European (mostly contemporary) opera singers! In the best way! I was very sad not to have gotten this bonus. (Tomás, who read our round, can attest to me absolutely melting.) Thank you to whoever wrote it! It was terribly exciting to hear a bonus part on my favorite opera composer (Verdi; I am basic) cluing one of my favorite singers (Marina Rebeka! Very obscure, by quizbowl standards). Furthermore, the bonus part of Lady Macbeth clued my favorite aria of hers--her entrance aria / Letter aria--even when her sleepwalking scene ("Una macchia è qui tuttora") is the thing that has come up in quizbowl. Moreover, the (h) on Anita Rachvelishvili absolutely won my heart because I adore Rachvelishvili and the part clued some of my favorite characters in opera ever--Amneris, Azucena, and Eboli.

However, when I heard it, I felt the question felt closer to CO-level difficulty, and the stats definitely agree (63/4/0). This question felt like a long list of singers with names that are difficult to pronounce in the 9th round of the day. I loved it, but I think this was one reason the (e) conversion was so low--the only pinned down clue was namedropping two Verdi characters, and everything else was a bit vague. (Despite Angela Gheorghiu rising to fame because of Traviata, I associate her more with Tosca, probably. Sonya Yoncheva I don't think of as a Verdi singer. Marina Rebeka is famous for Traviata yes, but also Norma (she has stopped performing Traviata entirely). This is just to say that it's very difficult to find buzzable/unique clues of X singer is famous for singing Y composer's roles.) The (m) conversion was surprisingly low to me (kudos to Chicago A for being the only team to convert it!), which could probably be remedied by cutting the names of a few singers and namedropping an extra aria or two (sleepwalking scene, her drinking song) or describing the opera or something. Tricky to make it not litfraudable. The (h) seemed ludicrously hard. I imagine this was written because of the NYT's recent feature on Rachvelishvili's journey to rebuilding her voice, a really interesting article, but even so, it was a pretty tall order to expect players to remember all of the syllables in that name. Afterwards, a UNC teammate of mine suggested it probably would have been better as a part on Elīna Garanča, a more famous Latvian mezzo-soprano who has recently taken on the same roles (Amneris and Eboli, but not Azucena), which would keep the Eastern European singers theme.

Anyway, thanks for writing that bonus for me :D and I thought this tournament was generally pretty good. Thanks to everyone who worked on this set and the tournament!
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Stinkweed Imp »

The question on Japanese photographers in packet 6 was really good.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by echoes in the Othersea »

This was my first ACF Nationals, and it was a lot of fun, despite my team losing something like eight consecutive games. During the tournament, I mostly focused on the history and especially American history:

The Fat Leonard bonus was definitely the type of history I like (although it's classified as Current Events here), but I think it was a bit too hard: I'd assumed Fat Leonard was the hard part but it was actually the medium, and still had a 5% conversion rate, equivalent to the hard.

There seemed to be a little more focus on Native Americans in the Amhist distro, with tossups on Anishinaabe (which QBPackets tells me is actually religion, but at the time I had assumed was history) and Creek, which I thought wasn't a bad idea, albeit not my specialty. I think the Serpents/Pipes/Adena Culture bonus may have been a little bit difficult, mostly in terms of connecting the dots from "this animal" to "Great Serpent Mound."

I'm kind of on the fence about the Upton Sinclair Tossup, because while this is ACF Nationals, about 2/3rds of the question was on the 1934 California Gubernatorial Election, which I feel is a bit excessively regional (although I will say from the buzzpoints, players from California seemingly did not have an advantage on this question).

It's been stated before that the Melons Tossup was vulnerable to lingfraud, although otherwise I liked it (and vaguely remember the Khomeini quote, but just couldn't pull it before "Hami" was read.

The Ustase Tossup I felt like kind of baited Chetniks, which I guessed and was of course negged for, and from buzzpoints it seems like I wasn't alone. This was definitely of the the Tossups I liked least.

Pierre Charles L'Enfant felt more like an OFA question than a history question, I guess someone felt like writing about the history of architecture? I think in general I disliked a lot of the early editors packet American history, with the notable exception of Phyllis Schafly which was one of my favorite questions of the set (Las Vegas was also pretty good). I was also surprised by how many Nats questions turned into buzzer races, with notable examples including L'Enfant and Victory Gardens.

I'm not sure why "Lord Beaverbrook" and "starts with the letter J" were the clues for the Easy part in Dundee/Journalism/Kolkata, but I think the 58% conversion on the easy demonstrates how this was unwise.

Tirailleurs was my least favorite question of the tournament by a considerable margin. It's a good idea to include history about African colonial troops, but why only ask about the French ones, going so far as to reject the term for all African colonial troops that were not French? There weren't even any clues in the question about the non-colonial tirailleurs, just a rejection of the more common term because French colonial authorities felt too special to include their colonial soldiers alongside all other European power's colonial soldiers. I got negged for Askari, and given that this TU had 46% conversion, I would hazard many other players did as well, and I take the low conversion as further evidence that this question was not a good idea.

I liked the Budyonny/Great Purge/Khalkhin Gol bonus. I thought the Tuaregs bonus was a little hard but I guess 71% easy conversion isn't the worst.

Overall I thought the history was alright, if a little disappointing. There were some questions I disliked, and going through the packets reveals that they were pretty much all in the editors packets.
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Re: 2024 ACF Nationals Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

echoes in the Othersea wrote: Thu May 23, 2024 12:04 pmI'm kind of on the fence about the Upton Sinclair Tossup, because while this is ACF Nationals, about 2/3rds of the question was on the 1934 California Gubernatorial Election, which I feel is a bit excessively regional (although I will say from the buzzpoints, players from California seemingly did not have an advantage on this question).
It's a pretty famous campaign that has come up a lot before in quizbowl tournaments across the country.
echoes in the Othersea wrote: Thu May 23, 2024 12:04 pmPierre Charles L'Enfant felt more like an OFA question than a history question, I guess someone felt like writing about the history of architecture?
The question focused pretty fully on L'Enfant's role in and around objects of aesthetic value pertaining to famous figures from early America (the Carrolls who ran Maryland, the Society of the Cincinnati being veterans of the American Revolution, Baron von Steuben, Alexander Hamilton, etc. etc.) and not the particulars of the designs of those houses, badges, mills, grid plans, etc. Classifying it as History rather than Fine Arts seems unambiguously correct to me ("raise your hand if you were personally victimized by Pierre L'Enfant's street grid...").
Matt Jackson
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