Table of Contents
- About these rules
- A. Definitions and Participants
- B. Equipment
- C. Match Execution
- CX. Optional addendum: Alternative tiebreaker procedures
- D. Tossups
- DX. Optional addendum: Power marks
- DY. Optional addendum: Incorrectness Penalties (“Negs”)
- E. Bonuses
- F. Ruling on Answers
- G. Detailed Correctness Guidelines
- H. Protests
- I. Ethics and Conduct
- Appendix 1: Online play
About these rules
This is the official set of gameplay rules of the Academic Competition Federation, put forward for use at all official ACF events and at other applicable collegiate or collegiate-style quizbowl events. Eligibility information specifically pertaining to ACF events now exists as the ACF Eligibility Rules, and is no longer covered by this document.
Within these rules, all plain text has the effective force of a rule governing all participants within a quizbowl match or tournament. The initial use of an important rules term, at the point where that term is most clearly defined, is given in bold [with alternate rules terms for that same thing bolded within square brackets]. In places where examples or clarifying “reminder text” might be useful, but not strictly necessary, to understanding the rules, that reminder text has been presented within parentheses in italics.
Rules specifically pertaining to online tournaments have been rendered in blue.
These rules were ratified as a full replacement of the hitherto-existing rule set on August 27, 2016. Some portions of these rules were, with permission, based on the official gameplay rules of the Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence (PACE), and on the previous copyrighted rule sets of PACE and ACF.
Any tournament may use these rules free of charge without prior permission from ACF. However, tournament directors are expected to announce in advance any adjustments, choices, or modifications they might make to alter these rules at their own events, and to apply any such modifications consistently across all matches in a given tournament, without attributing authorship of any such modifications to ACF.
A. Definitions and Participants
- A tournament is a set of organized quizbowl matches. The tournament director is the designated organizer of a particular tournament.
- Each quizbowl match is played in a game room by two teams.
In the case of an online tournament, this room may be a virtual room. If the tournament requires video, all players should have video on, unless given prior permission by the tournament director or the other players in the game. Tournament directors may define requirements for video as they see fit.
- Each game room shall have a moderator, who reads the questions to the two teams playing matches in that game room, and a scorekeeper, who records the official score on an official scoresheet as a match progresses. It is permissible for a single person to fulfill both the role of moderator and the role of scorekeeper for a game room.
- At the tournament director’s discretion, additional officials with other roles (e.g. a person keeping unofficial score on a blackboard or whiteboard for the benefit of spectators) may be appointed to help manage a game room or to help manage the tournament as a whole.
- A team consists of a roster of no fewer than one and no more than six players, inclusive. At its own discretion, each team may declare a captain prior to the start of any match. These rules never require a captain to serve in any unique or official role, and the declaration of a captain does not change which given answers the moderator must rule on as a bonus is being played. (See Section E, “Bonuses”.)
- An individual player may never be on the roster of more than one team at a single tournament. If multiple teams at a tournament represent the same school or institution, there can be no overlap in membership between any of those teams.
- An active player is a player who is able to give answers to questions within a match. Any/all players who are not active within an ongoing match are non-active [or substituted out; or subbed out]. In all respects other than the prospect of being substituted in (See C.12), a non-active player shall be treated the same as any other spectator.
- Each team may be accompanied by up to one coach during the match. Coaches may lodge protests at appropriate times (See Section H, “Protests”), may call for timeouts and/or substitutions at appropriate times, and may approach their players to speak to them at designated pauses in gameplay (See Section C, “Match Execution”). In all other respects, a coach shall be treated the same as any other spectator (See I.2). Together, the set of all players and coaches from both teams in a match constitute the participants in that match.
- No team may have more than one person serve officially as coach during any single match. If more than one person could conceivably serve as a team’s official coach for the duration of the match (for example, if one school brings multiple faculty members at the tournament and two or more of those faculty members are in the game room with a team from that school), the moderator shall ask the players on that team to designate their official coach before the match begins.
- A team may also declare one or more assistant coaches before a match begins. Assistant coaches shall be treated the same as the coach.
- The term question refers to either a tossup in its entirety or a bonus in its entirety (i.e. a three-part bonus counts as a whole as one “question”). A clue is any standalone sentence within a question, or any clause or string of phrases which could be excerpted and read as though it were a standalone sentence referring to the desired answer(s); each question contains multiple clues. (As such, it is never the case that a clue has been given if no main verb has yet been read.)
- An answer is a verbal response given by a player, which can be ruled on to determine whether or not that player’s team is to be awarded points and how the match is to proceed.
When possible, players should give spoken responses. Typed or written responses should only be used if spoken responses are not feasible.
- The packet is the collection of questions from which a moderator reads in a particular match.
- Each match shall be played using a buzzer system [or lockout system], an electronic device which allows any individual user to activate a signal (such as a light accompanied by a sound) and which locks out all other users from signaling once any one individual user has signaled.
Online tournaments may use a buzzer system which either locks out all other users from signaling once any one individual user has signaled, or preserves a record of which player buzzed first. In situations where there may be different records of who buzzed first (such as an Internet chat client), the moderator's record shall be final.
- A single button [or buzzer unit or buzzer module] is the device which any individual player uses to give a signal, as a component connected to the overall lockout system. (The button is the entire hand-held device, irrespective of its shape — in a buzzer system where each player is handed a paddle which can be used to give a signal by clamping one’s hand rather than pressing with one finger, the individual paddle is considered to be a “button”.) Each player in a match must be able to operate exactly one button which, when used, produces a unique signal (typically a light and/or sound) distinguishable from those of the other buttons in the buzzer system.
- An individual player buzzes in [or buzzes] by using their button to activate a signal (such as the activation of a light accompanied by a sound) which locks out all other users from signaling in the same way, or preserves a record of when they buzzed in relation to other players.
- The buzzer system may and must be cleared [or reset] by match officials at appropriate times. Clearing the buzzer system deactivates any previously-active signals displayed by the buzzer system and removes any electronic lockout affecting individual buttons.
- Before any match, each team may perform a buzzer check by ensuring that each player’s button functions normally and that the system can be cleared. If either of the above conditions is not met and a spare buzzer system exists in the vicinity, the buzzer system shall be replaced with a spare as soon as possible, unless both teams agree to use the system in its partially-functional state.
- In the event that all reasonable efforts to obtain a spare buzzer system have been exhausted and no spare buzzer system is available, both teams may agree to use a common verbal or physical sign as an equivalent to buzzing in (e.g. saying “Buzz”; slapping the table). In matches played without a buzzer system, all timing calls with regards to who buzzed in first are moderator judgments and are not protestable.
- In the event that all reasonable efforts to obtain a spare buzzer system have been exhausted and a partially-working buzzer system is available, the tournament director may authorize the use of the partially-working system.
- Unless otherwise announced, the only materials which players are allowed to use during a match, besides the buzzer system, are writing implements and pieces of paper. Any piece of paper brought into a match must be completely blank except for rule lines and devoid of writing or erasure marks. Prepared notes or other study aids may not be brought to the area where active players are. (This prohibition still applies during stoppages in gameplay such as at halftime or during time-outs.)
- A bound notebook may be brought into a match, provided that it is turned to a completely blank page before the match begins and that no other pages within the notebook are visible.
- Players may keep score on a pre-printed scoresheet, provided that any such scoresheet is otherwise devoid of additional writing, erasure marks, or modifications prior to the match.
- Players may not use any personal electronic devices (including, but not limited to: cell phones, tablets, laptops, “wearable” tech devices) during the duration of a match. This prohibition extends to any and all pauses in gameplay within a match.
- The above rule does not apply to accommodations required by players due to a physical disability, such as hearing aids or electronic wheelchairs.
The above rule also does not apply to devices used to compete in online tournaments. A player playing an online tournament may use a personal electronic device such as a laptop to compete in the tournament, but may not use any functions of the personal electronic device other than what is necessary to compete. The player may not use any personal electronic devices that are not being used to compete in the tournament while playing the tournament.
- Designated coaches may use an electronic device for the purpose of keeping score or taking notes during a match. Any electronic files used for this purpose must be reasonably blank (e.g.: empty digital scoresheet, blank Word document) before the match begins. Coaches who use an electronic device in this manner are obligated to keep all other programs and functions of the device closed or hidden as the match is in progress, and may not show any electronic scoresheet or notes to any player involved in the match except at halftime or during time-outs.
- Before the start of a match, all players, coaches, and spectators must ensure that electronic devices that may make noise or otherwise disrupt a match (including, but not limited to: cell phones, tablets, laptops, watch alarms, “wearable” tech devices, cameras with flash) are set to “silent” or turned off so that they cannot disrupt the match. The moderator may demand that any such device be removed from the game room if it is not properly deactivated in this manner.
- No person within a game room may make an audio or video recording of a match without the express permission of both teams, the moderator, and the tournament director.
C. Match Execution
- A cycle [or tossup-bonus cycle] consists of the reading of a single tossup question and any bonus question earned if a player duly gives a correct answer to that tossup question. (See Section D, “Tossups,” and Section E, “Bonuses”.)
- The moderator should read the tossups designated for regulation play in the sequential order provided by the packet. In the event that the moderator skips over a tossup by accident, the moderator should go back and read the skipped-over tossup after the cycle in which the error is discovered. (The cycles of the game can decouple from the numbering of tossups in the packet if this happens. For example, if the moderator skips the tossup numbered “2”, but doesn’t realize it until reading the tossup numbered “20,” the moderator should then read the tossup number “2” to begin the twentieth cycle of the game.)
- If a replacement question is needed, that replacement question is considered to be the single tossup or bonus in the cycle, rather than the question which was thrown out to necessitate the replacement.
- Regulation play consists of twenty cycles and any pauses taken between those cycles. A match consists of regulation play, followed by any pauses or tiebreaker questions required after the last cycle of regulation play.
- If question supplies allow for it, the tournament director may permit each instance of regulation play across all matches of a tournament to consist of a number of cycles greater than twenty. At such a tournament, halftime (See C.7) takes place after the cycle whose number is half the total number, rounding up in the case of an odd number of cycles, rather than after the tenth cycle.
- If question supplies are limited such that it is not possible for regulation play in all matches across a tournament to consist of twenty cycles, the tournament director may permit designated mini-matches, in which regulation play consists of ten cycles. In a mini-match, there is no halftime, and substitutions may not be made at any point during regulation play. All points at which mini-matches will be in use must be announced by the tournament director before the tournament begins.
- Each team may have no more than four active players competing in a match at any one time. If a team consists of four or more players, it must select four of those people as active players before the match begins. (The starting lineup of active players need not be the same from match to match.)
- After each cycle of a match, the moderator shall clear the buzzer system, such that no active players are locked out and all active players are able to buzz in on the upcoming tossup.
- After the last cycle of regulation play, the team with the higher score is declared the winner of the match.
- In the event of a tie in score after regulation play, the teams will play one or more additional (sudden-death) tossups until the first change in score occurs, at which point the team with the higher score is immediately declared the winner. (Because the game ends immediately with the first change in score, answering a tiebreaker tossup correctly does not earn a player’s team a bonus.) (See Optional Addendum CX for alternative tiebreaker procedures.)
- After the tenth cycle of a match, the moderator must pause for halftime. Halftime shall last no longer than sixty seconds, unless more time is needed at the moderator’s discretion to note the specifics of one or more protests (See Section H, “Protests”). At halftime, the moderator must perform a score check by announcing the official score, and reconciling discrepancies with players, coaches, or spectators who are keeping an unofficial score as needed.
- Each team may take up to one timeout per game. A team may only take their timeout by declaring verbally, between cycles, that they are taking their timeout for the game (i.e. by saying “Timeout” or “Time”). Timeouts shall last no longer than thirty seconds.
- For each team, the moderator shall accept the first permissible call for a timeout which is directed at the moderator from any active player or coach on that team. Additional calls for a timeout beyond either team’s first shall be ignored.
- Attempts to call for a timeout within a cycle (i.e. while a tossup or bonus is being read; between a tossup and its corresponding bonus) shall be ignored. Calls for a timeout while a tossup is being read shall be treated as conferring (See D.11).
- Except in cases of emergency, all players and coaches on both teams must remain within the game room during the duration of a timeout. If a participant does have to leave the game room for some genuine reason during a timeout and remains absent for more than thirty seconds, the moderator shall resume the match without the missing participant.
- The moderator will not pause the game at any point other than at halftime or during each team’s designated timeout, except to accommodate emergencies or other reasonable requests at the moderator’s discretion.
- Each team may ask for a score check after any cycle of the game. Excessive requests for score checks may be interpreted as minor misconduct (See Section I) at the moderator’s discretion if it interferes with the timely completion of the game.
- Each team may ask for a buzzer check after any cycle of the game. Excessive requests for buzzer checks may be interpreted as minor misconduct (See Section I) at the moderator’s discretion if it interferes with the timely completion of the game.
- After the time allotted for halftime or any timeout expires, the moderator shall ask both teams if they are ready to continue before beginning the next cycle of the match.
- If both teams indicate that they are ready to continue before the maximum allotted time for a pause in gameplay expires, the next cycle of the match shall begin as soon as the moderator is ready to resume reading.
- While a match is being played, active players on a team with a coach may only speak to their coach (and vice versa) during halftime, during timeouts taken by either team, or between regulation play and the reading of the first tiebreaker tossup in the event that both teams are tied in score after regulation play.
- Teams with more than four players on their roster may make substitutions at halftime, or after regulation play if and only if both teams are tied in score. (Teams may NOT make substitutions at any other time, such as during their timeout, during the opposing team’s timeout, at a mid-game buzzer check, or at any other point during the match.) In order to make a substitution, a team must substitute in a non-active player for an active player, so that the previously non-active player becomes active and vice versa.
- The moderator is expected to allow each team a chance to make substitutions at appropriate times. If the moderator fails to do so, either team may stop the moderator and make substitutions before the next tossup is read. If neither team stops the moderator before the moderator begins reading the next tossup after a substitution opportunity, the substitution opportunity ends even if the moderator failed to ask for them.
- A player who is substituted out at halftime may be substituted back in after regulation play in the event that both teams are tied in score after regulation play.
- If a team has fewer than four players active in a match already in progress, and a player on that team’s roster arrives late to the game room, the newly-arrived player may begin playing in that match at the start of the next cycle; doing so is not counted as a substitution. If a team does start a game with four active players, then a late-arriving player must wait for a designated substitution opportunity before replacing any active player.
- If and only if the moderator is reading a question or part which is an exact word-for-word repeat of a question or part the players have already heard over the course of the match or the tournament, any active player or coach may indicate to the moderator that the question is a repeat (e.g. by saying “Repeat!”), in which case the moderator will throw out the question in progress and read a replacement immediately. If an indication of exact repeat is lodged erroneously while the moderator is reading a tossup, the moderator may treat it as conferring (See D.11).
- The moderator may throw out and immediately read a replacement for any question which is an exact word-for-word repeat of a question that has already been read out over the course of the match or the tournament in progress, even if no player has requested that the moderator do so.
- In the event that a replacement question of any kind needs to be read (due to moderator error, protest, or any other reason), each team involved must play the replacement question(s) with the same set of players who were active when the original, thrown-out question was read.
- In the event that a replacement tossup needs to be read, the replacement tossup should be drawn from any tossup(s) available in the packet after the last tossup designated for regulation play, in descending order, and then drawn from additional tossups provided by the tournament director if there are no extra tossups left to read in the packet. In the event that a replacement bonus needs to be read, the replacement bonus should be the next one in sequence within the packet, drawing from additional bonuses provided by the tournament director if there are no bonuses left to read in the packet. Teams may not object to the specific replacement question which gets read unless it is an exact repeat (See C.13). (In particular, players have no basis for expecting that a replacement question be from the same category as a question which was thrown out, or for expecting that the match conform to a guaranteed “distribution” of categories after all necessary replacements are taken into account.)
- The moderator must read the appropriate questions in the packet verbatim and may not provide teams any additional substantive information beyond the clues presented in questions while a tossup is live or a bonus is being played.
CX. Optional addendum: Alternative tiebreaker procedures
(Official ACF tournaments do not use alternative tiebreaker procedures. At the tournament director’s discretion, and as question supplies allow, Rule C.6 above may be replaced by any one of the following rules for all matches within a tournament.)
- (“NAQT-style” Tiebreakers.) In the event of a tie in score after regulation play, the teams will play three additional standalone tossups which do not earn a bonus for the team which answers correctly, after which the team with the higher score is declared the winner. In the event that the match is still tied in score after the third standalone tossup played in this way, the teams will play additional (sudden-death) tossups until the first change in score occurs, at which point the team with the higher score is immediately declared the winner. (Answering a sudden-death tossup correctly does not earn a player’s team a bonus.)
- (Letting Match Ties Stand.) In the event of a tie in score after regulation play, the match is declared a tie.
- Unless otherwise stated, the value of giving the correct answer to a tossup question is 10 points.
- No player may give an answer to a tossup except for an active player who has buzzed in while the tossup is live. A tossup is live while it is being read and (if applicable) during the five seconds after the tossup has been read in full. If one team buzzes in and gives an incorrect answer after a tossup has already been read in full, that tossup shall remain live (for the remaining team) for exactly five seconds thereafter. (A tossup “goes dead” if all opportunities to give answers to it expire and no players have given a correct answer.)
- If a player who has not buzzed in attempts to give an answer to a tossup while it is live (e.g. due to mistaking the signal corresponding to their button for another person’s), the moderator shall treat it as conferring.
- If a player has buzzed in, and that player is the first player to buzz in while the ongoing tossup is live, and the moderator accidentally rules on the correctness of an answer given by any other player, the affected tossup will be thrown out; a replacement tossup will then be read immediately to all teams who were allowed to buzz in before the error was made.
- In the event that a tossup states that teams have a specified span of time longer than five seconds to buzz in after it has been read in full (e.g. “You have 10 seconds,”), it shall remain live for the amount of time it specifies in this way, both at first and again if one team gives an incorrect answer.
- When a player who has buzzed in gives the correct answer to a tossup, the moderator shall state the number of points gained, and then read a bonus to that player’s team. (See Section E, “Bonuses”.)
- Each team may only buzz in one time per tossup. If a player gives an incorrect answer to a tossup, all players on that player’s team, including the person who gave the incorrect answer, are disallowed from buzzing in for the rest of the time in which that tossup is still live. (Giving an incorrect answer to a tossup locks out the entire team.) Any attempts by a team to buzz in beyond the first on a particular tossup shall be ignored and cleared from the buzzer system.
In the event that a player gives an incorrect answer, the moderator shall clear the buzzer system and disregard all prior buzzes by the other team before continuing.
- If a player gives an incorrect answer to a tossup before it has been read in full, the moderator shall continue reading the rest of the tossup to the team which is still allowed to buzz in.
- When a player buzzes in, the moderator must stop reading the tossup immediately and recognize that player, which can be done verbally (e.g. by saying the player’s name or saying “Yes” to them) or by a gesture such as pointing to, making eye contact with, or nodding at that player. A player who has buzzed in need not wait to be recognized in this manner before giving their answer to the tossup.
- From the moment at which a player buzzes in, that player has five seconds in which to give an answer. (Recognition exists entirely as a courtesy to the player; the amount of time it takes to recognize the player who buzzed in has no effect on this count.) After five seconds, the moderator shall call time (i.e. by saying “Time”). Any answer given after the moderator calls “Time” will not be considered.
For an online tournament, players will have eight seconds after recognition to give an answer. This timing restriction applies to both spoken and typed answers. Unlike in-person tournaments, moderators must recognize the player who buzzed in and is eligible to answer the question.
- The calling of time is a matter of moderator judgment and is not protestable.
- If a player gives an answer at the same time that the moderator calls time, the tie is resolved in favor of the player.
- If a live tossup has been read in full, and five seconds have elapsed in which no player has buzzed in (i.e. At the moment a tossup goes dead), the moderator shall call time. Any attempts to buzz in after the moderator calls “Time” will not be considered.
- If a player buzzes in at the same time that the moderator calls time, the tie is resolved in favor of the player.
- If all opportunities to buzz in on a tossup have expired and neither team has given the correct answer, the moderator shall reveal the correct answer and then continue the match as appropriate (See Section C, “Match Execution”).
- While a tossup is live, the moderator may not ask any players or teams to give an answer, or provide any verbal warning that time is about to expire, while a tossup is live.
- Conferring is not allowed while a tossup is live. Conferring consists of any verbal, written, signed, or analogous linguistic communication by any active player which could convey information pertinent to the possible answer of a question. Any instances of conferring while a tossup is live will be treated as giving an incorrect answer, will result in the same point deduction or lack thereof as giving an incorrect answer (i.e. will result in a neg for the first team to confer if conferring interrupts the reading of a tossup), and will disallow the team that conferred from buzzing in for the rest of the time in which that tossup is still live. Non-substantive gestures or exclamations, which include waving one’s hands, raising or lowering one’s button, uttering brief interjections of surprise, etc., do not count as conferring and need not be penalized or acknowledged by the moderator unless they otherwise qualify as misconduct (See Section I, “Ethics and Conduct”).
- As soon the moderator discovers an instance of conferring on a tossup, the moderator shall declare to both teams that it has occurred (e.g. by saying “Illegal conferring”) and proceed as though the conferring team has given an incorrect answer. In the event that a team engages in conferring and the moderator has not discovered it, any active player or coach on the other team may directly address the moderator briefly to note the problem (e.g. by saying “They’re conferring”) without being penalized themselves.
- In the event that the tossup is still live after an instance of conferring on a tossup, the remaining team may buzz in and give an answer as normal, and may take the other team’s utterances into account.
- If the buzzer system is not cleared while a tossup is live, any active player or coach may request that the moderator clear the buzzer system (e.g.: by saying “Clear, please” or “Reset!”). Requests to the moderator to clear the buzzer do not constitute conferring.
- The brief indication of intent to protest (i.e. saying “Protest” directly to the moderator) does not constitute conferring.
- The raising of a procedural complaint (See H.6.b) does not constitute conferring.
- If a player believes that their button or the buzzer system is malfunctioning, that player may say “Buzz” instead of buzzing in; saying “Buzz” in this manner shall be treated the same as buzzing in with the electronic buzzer system and does not constitute conferring. The decision of a moderator that this has occurred before or after another player buzzes in with the electronic buzzer system is a judgment call and is not protestable.
- Moderator judgment as to whether conferring occurred is not protestable.
- Irrespective of which button is held or used by which player, the player who buzzes in is the one who gets to give an answer. Attempting to “buzz in for” a teammate, such that one player buzzes in and a second player gives the answer, counts as conferring if the player who buzzes in and the player who gives the answer are not the same player. (See D.2.a.)
- If an instance of conferring involves two or more players on the same team, and individual player totals are being tallied as part of the official score, the penalty shall be assessed on the first player to speak as part of that instance of conferring, or, if multiple players spoke simultaneously, to exactly one of those players at the moderator’s discretion.
- If the moderator has begun reading a tossup and has not yet read a verb, or a proper noun, or a word within quotation marks, or a noun or adjective which is a technical term in an academic field, (e.g. “Next tossup. One of…”), a player who buzzes in may claim to have to have buzzed in accidentally. In such a case, the moderator may rule it an accidental buzz [or stray buzz] and proceed as though the player had not buzzed in. The moderator cannot rule any buzz accidental if any one word of the types listed above has already been read.
- Whether or not a term is “technical” is a matter of moderator discretion and is not protestable.
- In the event that a malfunction in the buzzer system is discovered during a match (i.e. it automatically makes a signal for a player who has not buzzed in, a unit fails to buzz in sometimes, etc.), either team may request that the tossup from the ongoing cycle (or the tossup from the most recently-concluded cycle, should the malfunction be discovered between cycles) be thrown out and replaced. In the event that such a replacement takes place, no questions other than the original tossup read during the ongoing cycle may be replaced or replayed.
- In the event that the moderator accidentally reveals the answer to a tossup while the tossup is still live, the tossup will be thrown out; a replacement tossup will then be read immediately to all teams who were allowed to buzz in before the error was made. (See C.15 for details on where replacement questions are drawn from.)
DX. Optional addendum: Power marks
(Official ACF tournaments do not use power marks. However, some collegiate tournaments use them. This optional addendum is included so that non-ACF tournaments have consistent rules to look to in their usage of power marks.)
- Tossups may include a power mark, a non-verbal symbol placed at some point within their question text. (In most cases, this mark will be an asterisk surrounded by parentheses, e.g.:
(*), and the text before the power mark will be bolded as an additional visual aid to the moderator. In some cases, there is no explicit power mark printed, but the space between the last word of bolded text and the first word of regular text serves the same purpose.)
- While reading a tossup with a power mark, the moderator shall not outwardly indicate the location of the power mark in any manner, and should read the text on either side of the power mark without interruption. Players should not know where the mark is located within the question text while a tossup is live.
- The point value of buzzing in and giving the correct answer of a tossup before or at the moment the moderator has read up to the power mark is 15 points. (The act of buzzing in and giving a correct answer in this way is known as getting a power.)
- “Up to the power mark” includes any point at which the moderator is in the process of reading, but has not yet finished reading, the syllable of text immediately after the power mark.
Whether or not a player buzzed before, at, or within less than a syllable after the power mark is a matter of moderator judgment, and is not protestable. A player will be considered to have buzzed once a moderator stops speaking.
- During any score check, players may ask the moderator to reveal the location of the power mark(s) in any tossup the player has heard during the match thus far, so as to ensure that score was kept accurately during the match.
- The lack of a power mark within the question text of a tossup is not protestable. (If a tossup has no power mark, it has the same point value at all points where a player could buzz in. The moderator cannot “make up” a point where the power mark “would” be.)
DY. Optional addendum: Incorrectness Penalties (“Negs”)
(Official ACF tournaments use negs.)
- The first team to interrupt the reading of a tossup by buzzing in with an incorrect answer shall have 5 points deducted from its score. (This penalty is known as a neg or a neg-5.)
- If the second team also interrupts the reading of the same tossup by buzzing in with an incorrect answer, no points shall be deducted from its score.
- No points shall be deducted from the score of any team that buzzes in with an incorrect answer after a tossup has been read in full.
- Instances of conferring (See D.10) shall result in the same point deductions or lack thereof as giving an incorrect answer, depending on at what point the conferring occurs.
- If an instance of conferring involves two or more players on the same team, and individual player totals are being tallied as part of the official score, the penalty shall be assessed on the first player to speak as part of that instance of conferring, or, if multiple players spoke simultaneously, to exactly one of those players at the moderator’s discretion.
- Each bonus question consists of multiple bonus parts. The total value of all parts within a bonus always adds up to 30 points. (In virtually all cases, a bonus will consist of three parts worth 10 points each.)
- If the total value of all parts within a bonus is found to equal a number other than 30 points, either team may ask for the bonus to be thrown out and replaced immediately.
- The moderator shall read one bonus part individually, and preside over timing, rule on given answers, etc. for that bonus part, before moving onto the next. The team which earned the bonus [the controlling team] shall have five seconds after each bonus part has been read in full to give an answer for that part, unless a different amount of time is specified by the question text. The team which did not earn the bonus [the non-controlling team] does not have any opportunity to give answers.
For an online tournament, teams will have eight seconds to give an answer after the bonus part has been read in full.
- In the event that a bonus part specifies a longer amount of time in which to give an answer (e.g. “You have 10 seconds”), each opportunity to give an answer to that bonus part shall last as long as the bonus part specifies rather than the default five seconds.
- For as long as a team has the opportunity to give answers to a bonus part, conferring is allowed for all active players on that team.
- A team’s official answer on any bonus part is the first answer which any member of that team directs toward the moderator.
For an online tournament, a team shall direct a response to the moderator by prepending the phrase “Our answer is” (or any other phrase, such as “directed”, denoted by the tournament director) to their answer. Moderators should only consider responses preceded by “Our answer is” or another directing phrase. (For example, for a bonus part on Sextus Empiricus, the answering team should say “Our answer is Sextus Empiricus” to have their answer ruled upon.)
In addition to the above rule about teams directing answers, during online tournaments moderators shall consider directed the first answer given by a team after the moderator prompts them for an answer at the six-second mark, regardless of if the answer is preceded by a directing phrase or not. This does not apply to prompts given for the correctness of an answer, but only to prompts given for reasons of time.
- If a team directs an answer toward the moderator while the moderator is still reading a bonus part, the moderator shall stop reading immediately and rule on the correctness of that given answer.
- If two or more players on the same team give distinct answers to the same bonus part by directing them toward the moderator simultaneously, the moderator will ask the team to select one from among that set of answers as their official answer. The team must then select one answer immediately, or else be ruled incorrect. Moderator judgment as to what counts as simultaneous is not protestable. Any attempt to amend the team’s answer to a new one outside the set of initial simultaneously-directed answers will automatically be ruled incorrect. (See Section F, “Ruling on Answers”.)
- It is never necessary to “defer” to or “designate” before any player begins directing an answer. (There is no mandated role for a “captain” in selecting a team’s official answer.)
- While a bonus is being played, the standalone words “Defer” or “Designate,” and simple sentences using those words as their main verb (e.g. “I designate Paul”), shall be ignored and shall not be treated as a team’s official answer even if directed toward the moderator. The only instance in which the above does not apply is in situations where it is reasonable for the word “defer” or “designate,” or a word form thereof, to be the first word of the correct answer to the bonus part, in which case it becomes a matter of moderator judgment whether to accept that word as the team’s answer; such judgments are not protestable. A team will never gain any additional time to give an answer to a bonus part by saying “Defer” or “Designate.”
- If no team member directs an answer toward the moderator within four seconds (or six seconds for an online tournament), the moderator must ask the team for an official answer (e.g. by saying “Answer?”). The team has one second thereafter to provide an answer (or two seconds for an online tournament), after which point the moderator shall call time. (This is UNLIKE a player’s opportunity to give an answer to a tossup, during which the moderator may NOT say anything special at the four-second mark. See D.10.)
- If a player gives an answer at the same time that the moderator calls time, the tie is resolved in favor of the player.
- In the event that no correct answer is given, the moderator shall reveal the answer to each bonus part immediately after the last opportunity to give an answer for that bonus part expires.
- At the end of the bonus, the moderator should clearly state the total number(s) of points gained and immediately reconcile any discrepancies over the point total.
- Bonuses are not tied to or related to specific tossups. The moderator should always read the next available bonus in the packet each time a new bonus needs to be read. (For example: If the moderator is reading a packet of questions in which Tossups 1, 2, and 3 all go dead, but Tossup 4 is answered correctly, the moderator SHOULD read Bonus 1 to the team which earned it, and SHOULD NOT skip to Bonus 4.)
- In the event that the moderator skips over a bonus by accident, the moderator should go back and read the skipped-over bonus at the next opportunity in which a bonus needs to be read, then continue thereafter with the sequential order of bonuses presented by the packet.
- In the event that the moderator accidentally reveals the answer to a bonus part before a team has its duly-permitted opportunity to answer, the scorekeeper shall note the issue and the match will continue. If it is true after regulation play that the points thus removed could affect the win-loss outcome of the match, then a replacement bonus will be read after regulation play.
- In all situations in which a bonus must be replaced, a new bonus will be read to the same controlling team, on which it shall not be possible to gain more points than the potential maximum if the error had not occurred, and it shall not be possible to gain fewer points than the total gained from the original bonus with error included. (For example, consider an original bonus with three parts worth 10 points each, on which the controlling team gives an incorrect answer to the first part, gives a correct answer to the second part, and cannot give an answer to the third part due to moderator error, with no other factors involved. On the replacement bonus, that team can score no fewer than 10 points and no more than 20. Even if they give incorrect answers for all three parts of the replacement bonus, they will gain 10 points, because they already answered one part of the original bonus correctly and are not penalized out of those points by the moderator’s error. Even if they give correct answers to all parts of the replacement bonus, they will gain 20 points, because they gave an incorrect answer to one part of the original bonus and do not get second chance at lost scoring opportunities unaffected by the moderator’s error.)
- Before reading a replacement bonus, the moderator should state the range(s) of point values available and ensure that both teams understand the situation.
F. Ruling on Answers
- Whenever a player directs a given answer at the moderator, the moderator shall rule on the correctness of that answer by determining whether it is correct [and thereby accepting it] or incorrect. Each tossup, and each bonus part, will specify a list of possible correct [or acceptable; or desired] answers, and sometimes further instructions regarding related answers or similar possible answers or specific unacceptable answers, on an answer line immediately following the text of the question itself. In general, except in cases of immediately obvious factual errors or printing errors or omissions on the answer line, the moderator is to follow its instructions, as well as the Specific Correctness Guidelines below (See Section G). (Moderators without particular subject-matter expertise are encouraged to trust that teams will protest if a factual issue beyond the moderator’s understanding is at issue, rather than attempt to resolve it before any team indicates intent to lodge a protest. See Section H, “Protests”.)
- When a player or team has the opportunity to give an answer, the first answer directed by a player to the moderator is the only answer that will be ruled on. Giving an answer involves completing at least one word that could uniquely identify a potential answer and then, if applicable, completing all other words of that potential answer without any unnatural pauses or pauses of longer than a second between words within that potential answer (disregarding embellishing; See F.8). A player who wishes to amend their given answer (e.g. to correct the pronunciation of a word, to change from one given answer to another) must do so, without any unnatural pause, before the moderator has ruled on any answer that player has given.
- In the event that an active player gives an answer to any kind of question and that given answer is ruled incorrect, the moderator shall note verbally that the given answer was incorrect without indicating any reason for that ruling while the question is still live. (E.g.: It is not permitted to say “I can’t accept that pronunciation,” “You changed your answer three words in,” “so close,” etc.)
- In exception to the above, the moderator must expressly indicate when time is called and/or when a team engages in disallowed conferring. (Moderators should take care not to reveal whether instances of conferring included part or all of a correct answer.)
- If the moderator reveals the reason for ruling a given answer incorrect on a tossup and the opposing team still has a chance to answer that tossup, the team which buzzed in with the incorrect answer may request that the a replacement question be read for the opposing team only instead of the rest of the original tossup.
- If a player gives an answer which is not outright incorrect, but is nonetheless not specific enough to precisely identify the answer, the moderator must prompt, asking the player for a more specific answer (e.g. “I need more,” “More specific, please”, “More,” or simply “Prompt”), rather than ruling on it outright. A player (on a tossup) or team (on a bonus part) has three seconds to give a more specific answer after being prompted. If the player or team responds by giving with a more specific answer which is still not as specific as is required, the moderator shall prompt again, allowing two more seconds for a still-more-specific answer, and will continue to do so an indefinite number of times so long as the given answers continue to have greater specificity in the direction of a/the desired answer to the question.
- While a bonus part is being played, the team that was prompted may confer as normal during their three seconds after being prompted. While a tossup is being played, conferring is not allowed even if the player who buzzed in has been prompted.
- The moderator will not ask again for an answer (i.e. may not say “Answer please,” etc.) during the three seconds following a prompt, regardless of whether the prompt occurs on a tossup or bonus.
- Some questions may have answer line instructions to the moderator to anti-prompt, asking the player for a less specific answer. (e.g. “Less specific,” or simply “anti-prompt”). All rules regarding timing, conferring, etc. for anti-prompts are the same as those regarding prompts.
- The moderator may never anti-prompt unless instructions on an answer line explicitly mandate doing so for the particular answer a player gave. Teams may nonetheless receive repeated anti-prompt instructions if their response upon being anti-prompted for one answer is to give another answer for which there are instructions to anti-prompt.
- If a player or team is anti-prompted and then responds with an answer which is even less specific than a/the desired answer to the question (i.e. goes from an over-specific given answer to an under-specific given answer), the moderator may (issue a “normal”) prompt.
- The fact that a player was not anti-prompted for giving an inexact answer is not protestable. The absence of instructions to anti-prompt on an answer line is not protestable.
- The moderator may ask for a player to repeat a given answer before ruling on it if it was not possible to hear it clearly. If this occurs, the player may not change their answer in any way. Attempting to take advantage of a moderator by changing to a different given answer when asked to repeat an already-given answer is a form of misconduct (See Section I).
- The moderator may ask for the player to spell their given answer before ruling on it if it would help the moderator distinguish the player’s answer from other similar possible answers. If a player is asked to spell their answer, only letters which are essential for distinguishing the player’s intended answer need to be correct. (For example: A player who gives the answer “Monet” may be asked to spell it out so as to distinguish given answers indicating Claude Monet from possible answers indicating Edouard Manet. A player who spells out “M-O-N-A-Y”, or who says “with an O”, has succeeded at that task and will be ruled correct, without spelling skill or lack thereof affecting the correctness of the answer.)
- Embellishment of given answers will be disregarded unless it renders the given answer incorrect. Hesitation markers around given answers (e.g. “Uh….uh…Descartes”,) and/or the embedding of a given answer in a larger sentence (e.g. “this has to be the awesomely-named bomb calorimeter,” “Who is Bram Stoker?”) will never in and of themselves render an answer incorrect. In any case, the player must give the first actual word of a potential answer before time is called, and does not gain extra time by saying filler words. If a player embellishes their given answer, the determination as to which word is the first word of a potential answer is a matter of moderator judgment and is not protestable.
- Phrases directed at the moderator which consist only of a negation of one possible answer will be ruled on as though the player directed that possible answer without the negation. (e.g. If a player directs the given answer “It’s not Chaucer…” to the moderator, without saying any more, the moderator should rule on the given answer “Chaucer,” including accepting it if “Chaucer” is an acceptable answer.)
- A player may give an answer which contains two or more pieces of related information of different types (such as both the title of a work and its creator), to be treated as a unified answer. If any one piece of information given in this way contains the answer being sought, and all such pieces of information are correctly and clearly related to one another in a factually accurate manner, the answer shall be ruled correct. (For example, “Homer’s The Odyssey” is an acceptable answer if the answer being sought is either “The Odyssey” or “Homer” and the question has been describing the Odyssey as “this work”; “Aesop’s The Odyssey” is not an acceptable answer for any question, as authorship of The Odyssey is not attributed to Aesop. Players are strongly discouraged from merely listing related pieces of information, and should try to produce all information in a unified grammatical phrase whenever possible.)
- When giving an answer to a tossup, any answer containing two or more pieces of related information must be applicable as of the clue on which the player buzzed in.
- If multiple answers are required (e.g. a bonus part which asks players to “Name the two countries” which engaged in a particular war), all given answers except the last one must be completed and directed toward the moderator before time is called, and the last given answer must be started before time is called; any answers given thereafter will be disregarded. Players will not be prompted for giving a list of answers which is shorter than the required number.
- Players are not expected to know the exact pronunciation of every answer. Any reasonable attempt at pronouncing the answer being sought with the proper consonants in the proper order will be ruled correct, unless one or more vowels must be uniquely specified to distinguish the player’s given answer from other possible given answers, in which case (e.g. the “Manet” vs. “Monet” example presented in the reminder text of F.7), only the distinguishing vowel(s) need be correct. A player’s given answer must not add any consonants which would not be visible while reading the answer in text form, and must not switch the order of any consonants. (For example, “Stend-HALE” or “STOON-dahl” are acceptable pronunciations if the desired answer is Stendhal, but “STED-nahl” or “STINK-dahl” are not.)
- The syllable on which stress is placed in a player’s answer will never in itself cause the answer to be ruled incorrect (even if the answer being sought has an accent mark specifying where the proper stress occurs).
- Players need not account for accent marks or diacritical marks in attempting a reasonable pronunciation of their given answers.
- Moderators should make efforts to accommodate players with speech impediments or heavy accents, so that the intended pronunciation (or failing that, spelling) of each player’s answer is not in doubt.
- If a consonant could be reasonably read to be silent, a player’s answer will not be ruled incorrect for having left that consonant silent. (E.g.: A player will not be ruled incorrect for saying “mah-NEY” instead of “mah-NET” if the desired answer is Manet.)
G. Detailed Correctness Guidelines
- Unless specified as optional or “at the discretion of the answer line,” these guidelines may be used to overrule or add to the printed substance of an answer line within a packet.
- In cases where the correct answer to a question has an original name not in the English language, the original-language name is also acceptable, as are all common published English names and literal English translations of those names.(E.g.: For Marcel Proust’s series “À la recherche du temps perdu,” that original French title is acceptable, the literal translation “In Search of Lost Time” is acceptable, and the title “Remembrance of Things Past” is acceptable because the series was published under that name in English; however, “En búsqueda del tiempo perdido” is not acceptable, since Spanish is not the original language of the series.) Ambiguities across languages are resolved in favor of the player.
- Ambiguities across languages as to the accuracy of a plausible translation will normally be resolved in favor of the player. Implausible or inaccurate translations are not acceptable. (For example, “A Dog’s Heart,” “Heart of a Dog,” “The Heart of a Dog,” and “The Heart of the Dog” are all acceptable answers for the short story by Mikhail Bulgakov whose original Russian name is “Sobace serdtse,” as the player is not expected to figure out whether or how to supply articles that do not exist in Russian. “The Heart Inside the Dog” is never acceptable, since there is no correct way to translate the Russian title in that way. Since moderators and tournament directors cannot be expected to be familiar with every foreign language, players are encouraged to give non-esoteric or traditional English translations, or the original-language title, whenever possible.)
- If the desired answer to a question is a real, non-fictional person with a known family name, the player must typically give the family name of that real person to be ruled correct. Other names of that person may be provided in any order (e.g.: “Proust, Marcel” and “Marcel Proust” are equally acceptable given answers). This rule applies irrespective of the proper ordering of names in the language or naming convention that the real person originates from. (For example, modern Chinese naming conventions place the family name first. The burden is on the player to know which name is the family name and which is the individual’s given name; given names alone are never acceptable answers for a real person.)
- In exception to the above rule, when the answer is a ruler within a series in which each person has a regnal name and/or number, the player need only give the regnal name and number (if there is a number) of that ruler, without specifying a family name or dynastic house name. (E.g. “Pope Francis” is an acceptable answer for the pope who was elected in 2013, and “John” [without specifying number or family name] is an acceptable answer for the king of England who agreed to the Magna Carta, as there has only been one King John of England. “Henry VIII” [without specifying Tudor as the family name] is an acceptable answer for the king of England who died in 1547; saying just “Henry” is sufficient for a prompt but is not acceptable outright, as it does not uniquely identify any of the eight people named Henry who held the English monarchy.)
- If a person’s family name combines two names using a hyphen (e.g. “Levi-Strauss”), the names on either side of the hyphen must be given in the proper order for the given answer to be acceptable, and neither name on either side of the answer may be prompted on. If a person’s family name combines two words without a hyphen all such words must be given in the proper order for the given answer to be acceptable, unless otherwise specified below or by the answer line (e.g. “George” is not acceptable if the sought-after surname is “Lloyd George”). If a person’s family name contains one or more nobiliary particles at the beginning (e.g. the “van” in “van Buren,” the “de” in “de Cervantes”), players need only give those particles which are necessary for specifying the surname within English-language common usage. (e.g. “Buren” is not an acceptable given answer for the historical person Martin van Buren, but “Cervantes” is an acceptable given answer for the historical person Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.)
- For lengthy Spanish-language surnames, the family name inherited from the person’s father is generally a sufficient acceptable answer if given alone. In exception to the above, “Picasso” alone is always required and sufficient if the full desired answer is Pablo Ruiz y Picasso; “Marquez” is always required and sufficient if the full desired answer is Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and “Lorca” is always required and sufficient if the full desired answer is Federico Garcia Lorca.
- If a person’s family name changed over the course of his or her life (e.g. by marrying into a different family), any family name which that person had over the course of life is equally acceptable. If a person changed both given name(s) and family name(s) at once, given names and family names may not be mixed and matched across the name change. (E.g. “Leslie Lynch Ford” is not an acceptable answer for the person who was born Leslie Lynch King and later changed his name to Gerald Ford.)
- If a single person is commonly known by a pseudonym or pen name which corresponds uniquely to that person, that pseudonym is acceptable in place of the person’s family name. (For example: “Mary Ann Evans” and “George Eliot” are always both acceptable ways for the player to give an answer to a question whose desired answer is the author of Middlemarch.) If multiple people share a pseudonym in a shared context, and the desired answer is the pseudonym, none of the individual users of that pseudonym is an acceptable answer in its own right. (For example, the answer “Alexander Hamilton” is not acceptable if a question asks for the shared pseudonym of the authors of the Federalist Papers.)
- If two or more people from the same era or family share a surname, or if two people from the same general context or category share a surname, an answer line may dictate that the player give more than just the last name to uniquely identify the desired person. The choice of whether or not to require additional information in this way is at the discretion of the answer line. (E.g: This may occur to distinguish the answer lines “ANSWER: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley” and “ANSWER: Percy Bysshe Shelley”.)
- If two or more people from the same family share both their given name and their surname, and each could be a plausible given answer, the player’s given answer must unambiguously refer to one of those people by some means which rules out the other. (For example, by using “the Elder” or “the Younger,” or by giving a middle name or nickname which the two people do not share.) The choice of whether to require “Junior” or “Senior” is at the discretion of the answer line.
- The only acceptable answer for the second president of the United States is “John Adams.” Given answers referring to the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, must include reference to his middle name (‘Q’ is sufficient for this purpose); “John Adams” is always an outright unacceptable answer if the full desired answer is “John Quincy Adams”.
- In cases where a person came from an era or society in which surnames did/do not exist as they do in contemporary standard form, reasonably common identifications of a person by given name are acceptable. This includes situations where the only surname is one identifying a person by place of origin (e.g. “Leonardo” is acceptable for “Leonardo da Vinci”).
- Other cases where a person’s work or accomplishments result in their being typically referred to by a distinctive, uncommon given name alone (e.g. “Oprah” for “Oprah Winfrey”, “Rembrandt” for “Rembrandt van Rijn”), or cases in which a very common way of referring uniquely to a person deviates from the guidelines above, are at the discretion of the answer line.
- Acceptable answers for fictional characters include the character’s personal or first name, family name, and/or commonly-used nickname(s) appearing in the work(s) containing that character, as long as such information is sufficient to uniquely identify the character within that character’s fictional universe.
- If the correct answer to a question is a religious or mythical figure appearing in multiple religious or mythological traditions, acceptable answers are limited to the names of that figure in specific traditions which have been identified, either explicitly or by reference to character names found only within those traditions, in the question text up to the point at which the player buzzed in. (This generalizes, and includes, the situation of deities who have different names in Greek and Roman mythology. For example: “Zeus” is not acceptable if a question’s desired answer is “Jupiter” and it uses clues found only in Roman mythology and ritual.)
- In exception to the above, the names of characters presented in common English-language translations of the Bible are always acceptable for those characters. (For example, players need not give the Quranic or Arabic version of names when a question uses clues only from Islamic tradition about a character who is also found in the Bible.)
- Unless the player states otherwise, all dates in answers given by the player are assumed to be from the years AD/CE on the Gregorian calendar. If a player’s answer contains a year within the past one hundred calendar years, inclusive of the year in which the match is being played, it is only necessary to give the final two digits of that year; otherwise, all digits are required. (For example: “63” is an acceptable answer if the desired correct answer is “1963”, but it is not an acceptable answer if the desired correct answer is “1763”.)
- In cases where the desired correct answer to a question is the title of a work, the player must generally give the full title of the work for their given answer to be acceptable. The moderator is never allowed to prompt if the player gives only part of a title.
- In exception to the above, players may omit the leading article from a title (e.g.: “Red Badge of Courage” is as acceptable as “The Red Badge of Courage”), or may add a leading article where a title has none (e.g.: “The Four Quartets” is as acceptable as “Four Quartets”), unless an answer line explicitly specifies otherwise (e.g. using a “do not accept” clause). (The leading article is the sole article – e.g. “the,” “an,” or “a” – that is the first word of a title.)
- Players may not supply an incorrect leading article, or else the entire given answer becomes unacceptable. If pronunciation leaves it ambiguous whether a player is supplying the article “a” or merely embellishing (“uh…”, See Section F.8), the moderator should assume that the player is embellishing rather than adding a leading article.
- In cases where a work is commonly published under an abbreviated title, the abbreviated title under which it is published is acceptable in place of the full title. (E.g.: The answer “The Wealth of Nations” is as acceptable as “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.”)
- Players are never required to give the subtitle(s) of a work if the desired answer is a title. A subtitle on its own is never an acceptable answer to give in place of the title. (e.g.: “What You Will” is never an acceptable answer for the Shakespeare play “Twelfth Night: Or, What You Will”.)
- If the desired answer is a person or an organization which has a known acronym or abbreviation in common usage (e.g.: “LBJ” for Lyndon Baines Johnson, “HHS” for the Department of Health and Human Services), the acronym is acceptable. Contrived or rare acronyms (e.g.: “GWB” for George Walker Bush) are not acceptable. If an acronym or abbreviation could refer to two plausible organizations (e.g. “NRA” for National Rifle Association or National Recovery Administration) , it is at the discretion of the answer line whether to prompt on, outright accept, or outright not accept the shared acronym.
- Unless an answer line permits otherwise, the chemical symbol is never acceptable when the desired answer is a chemical element. If the desired answer is a specific molecule or chemical compound, IUPAC names and common names are typically both acceptable; the chemical formula for a compound is only an acceptable answer if the formula uniquely identifies that one compound and reciting the formula in full would not constitute unsportsmanlike delay of game or any other kind of misconduct.
- Unless an answer line permits otherwise, a symbol representing a physical or mathematical quantity is not acceptable in place of the common-usage verbal name of that quantity, unless the predominantly common way of naming that quantity is by speaking the name of its symbol aloud. (E.g.: “U” is usually not an acceptable answer in place of “potential energy,” but “e” is usually an acceptable answer in place of “Euler’s number”.)
- Unless an answer line permits otherwise, the letter abbreviations for nucleotides and nucleobases, the three-letter abbreviations for amino acids, and the codon or anticodon sequences corresponding to an amino acid are not acceptable answers in place of the common names for those types of biochemical objects.
- If the desired answer is a musical note or key from a specific piece of music or musical context, the player’s given answer must match that note or key “as written” even if other possible answers are enharmonically or technically equivalent. (For example, if a question asks the player to give the answer “E-flat” in describing the key of a symphony, “D-sharp” is not acceptable, even though D-sharp and E-flat represent the same pitch class in different contexts.)
- If the desired answer is a state, province, country, or school, there is no need to embellish beyond the common proper name of the place, except in cases where an unmodified place name is not uniquely identifying. (For example, it is never necessary to give “Harvard University” or “Republic of Zimbabwe” as one’s answer, rather than just “Harvard” or “Zimbabwe,” respectively, but one must specify “Boston University” or “Boston College” rather than just “Boston” to identify either of those two schools, as they are distinct entities.)
- In cases where a player gives the unmodified answer “China,” it is assumed that the player is referring to the government or country whose territory is in mainland China, and not solely to the island of Taiwan or the government based in Taiwan.
- Unless question text specifically requires or requests them, postal abbreviations, national aircraft registration prefixes, etc. are not acceptable answers in place of the common name of a state, province, or country.
- For questions where the desired answer is a place, the correctness of various historical names for that place is determined by whether a clue in the question has specified the era in which that historical place name was current, up to the point at which the player buzzed in. If no clue can be used to specify a past time period and all clues are in present tense, it is assumed by default that only place names used in the present day are acceptable. (For example: “Rhodesia” is not an acceptable answer for a question on the contemporary nation of Zimbabwe if all clues given refer to Zimbabwe.)
- Unless the answer line permits otherwise, “Russia” is not an acceptable answer to a question if all clues which have been read refer to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics between 1917 and 1991.
- Unless the answer line permits otherwise, “England” is not an acceptable answer to a question if all clues which have been read refer to the United Kingdom of Great Britain from 1707 to the present.
- For United States appellate (including Supreme Court) cases, either party name is acceptable alone unless exactly one party is “United States” or a particular state, county, city, jurisdiction, etc., in which case the other party name must be given. (E.g.: either “Gibbons” or “Ogden” is sufficient to identify the case Gibbons v. Ogden, but “Miranda” is required for Miranda v. Arizona, and an answer of “Arizona” will not be accepted or prompted for any case in which the state of Arizona is a party.) When giving the full name of the case, any order of party names is acceptable (e.g.: “Gibbons v. Ogden” is just as acceptable as “Ogden v. Gibbons”). Widely known informal nicknames for specific court cases (such as “the Sick Chicken Case”) are acceptable answers unless the answer line indicates otherwise. Docketing numbers are never acceptable.
- If the correct answer for a given question has an answer which is a common number or derived mathematical formula, and the player’s given answer expresses the desired number or formula without specifying units, the moderator will assume the player’s answer is in the proper units. If the player does give an answer specifying the units, the unit specified must be correct. (e.g: If the full desired answer is “2 meters per second,” the player may give “2” as an acceptable answer, but “2 miles per hour” is not acceptable.) Answers which require converting the desired numerical answer into other unit systems (e.g. giving the proper conversion of a meters-per-second answer into the equivalent amount in miles per hour) are not acceptable unless expressly permitted by an answer line.
- If the correct answer for a question has an acceptable quantitative answer which is a fraction, players must give that fraction in simplest terms, or as the simplest available decimal or percent representation. (e.g.: “four-eighths” is not an acceptable answer if the desired answer is “one-half”.)
- If the correct answer for a question has a non-terminating decimal or is an irrational or transcendental number, such that saying the full number aloud is impossible to do in finite time, players must give a finitely-long way of referring to that number as their answer. (E.g.: “3 point 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3 5…” is never an acceptable answer in place of “pi”.)
- Unless otherwise permitted by the answer line or by question text, descriptive phrases are not acceptable answers when the desired answer is a person, thing, or phenomenon with a defined name or nomenclature. (E.g.: “Uh, the current Pope” is not acceptable when the desired answer is “Pope Francis”.)
- If there are multiple acceptable answers to a question, each answer is equally acceptable unless one of those potential answers is mentioned in a clue within the question text and the moderator has begun reading that potential answer aloud. For the purposes of this rule, “begun” means that the moderator has finished reading the full syllable just prior to the potential answer. (E.g.: If “Samuel Clemens” is an acceptable answer up to a point, and a clue within a question reads “originally named Samuel Clemens,” it stops being acceptable as soon as the moderator finishes articulating the /d/ sound in “named”.)
- Unless an answer line expressly allows otherwise, a player’s given answer must contain the proper word form(s) which could refer directly to the answer — a proper noun if the desired answer is a proper noun, an adjective if the desired answer is an adjective, etc. — and an answer which merely contains another word or phrase derived from the desired answer is not acceptable on its own. (E.g.: “Freudian slip” alone is not an acceptable answer if the desired answer is “Sigmund Freud,” and “spoonerism” is not an acceptable answer if the desired answer is “Reverend William Spooner,” unless the answer line permits it.)
- If the desired answer to a question is a non-proper noun, all grammatically valid singular and plural given answers are equally acceptable.
- In the event that a question asks for a set of entities, and a player answers with a strict subset which is described in the question, that player’s answer will be ruled correct. (For example, if a tossup on birds in mythology uses the clue “Philomela was turned into one of these creatures,” and a player buzzes in with “nightingales,” that player’s answer will be accepted. The rule applies because nightingales are a type of bird, and the clue about Philomela is specifically true of nightingales, so that the player is effectively giving additional correct information with their answer.)
- This rule applies as long as the player buzzed at any point after the clue in question is read. (In the “birds” example, if the player buzzes with “nightingales” a line later, while the moderator is reading a clue describing mythological doves, the player’s answer will still be ruled correct. However, if the player answers with a type of bird that is not described at any point in the tossup, that answer will be ruled incorrect. The answer will also be ruled incorrect if the player buzzes before any clue referring to “nightingales” is read.) Instructions given in the answer line may supersede this rule, unless the answerline is factually incorrect. The mere fact that an answer line accepts a subset before its associated clue is read does not constitute factual incorrectness.
- The descriptors used to specify the desired answer must be reasonably accurate descriptors of the given answer in order for the given answer to be ruled correct. (For example, if a tossup on Abstract Expressionism asks for “this movement,” and a player answers with “Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning,” that answer will not be accepted because a reasonable person would not describe it as a “movement.”)
- If a player answers with a subset of the desired answer, and the clues are true of the player’s answer only because it is a subset of the desired answer, the player’s answer will not automatically be judged correct under this rule. (If a player answers with “electrons” for a tossup on “fermions,” for instance, the question will likely include clues that are true of electrons because they are a type of fermion. An example of such a clue might be, “These particles obey the Pauli Exclusion Principle,” which refers to fermions generally, including electrons. That clue would not be enough for the answer to be judged correct, unless another of the clues applies with greater specificity to electrons. If the question includes a clue such as “J.J. Thomson discovered one of these particles,” though, the answer of “electrons” will be ruled correct, since that clue does apply more specifically to electrons than to fermions.)
- In such a case, the question writer may include an anti-prompt at their discretion. However, the player’s answer will not be ruled correct on a protest just because it is a subset of the answer. In accordance with the rule on anti-prompts, the player also cannot protest that an anti-prompt should have been given if the question writer did not include one.
For online tournaments, typed responses will be held to the same correctness guidelines as spoken responses.
- A protest is an official action taken by an active player or coach to ensure that possible errors do not disrupt the proper and consistent awarding of points for accurate and specific factual knowledge.
- Any active player or coach may indicate their interest in formally lodging a protest while a match is ongoing, at any pause between questions prior to the point at which that protest would need to be formally lodged (e.g. by quickly and unobtrusively saying “Protest” if it regards the question which was just read, or by quickly and unobtrusively saying “Protest on tossup 7”, say, if it regards a question from earlier in the game.) The moderator shall note immediately that this indication of interest was made (e.g. by saying “Noted” and marking the spot corresponding to that question/cycle on the official scoresheet), and then continue reading the next question. Indicating interest in formally lodging a protest does not constitute formally lodging that protest.
- Any active player or coach may formally lodge a protest by stating that they are lodging a protest and explaining the specific substance of the protest. Protests concerning a tossup or bonus in regulation play may be lodged either at halftime or at the end of regulation play. Protests on any tiebreaker question may and must be lodged immediately after the affected question has been played.
- Active players who are being substituted out must lodge a protest before the substitution occurs. Players who have just been substituted in may not lodge a protest regarding a question that was read when they were non-active.
- The opportunity to start lodging protests ends for a given match as soon as all members of one team have left the game room, or within one minute of the end of the match, whichever comes later.
- Before the last opportunity to lodge protests for a given game has concluded, the opposing team to any individual protest may concede the validity of a protest, in which case the game state is immediately changed as though that protest were upheld (See H.12), and/or the protesting team may withdraw its own protest, in which case the game state remains as though that protest were denied.
- The following potential errors, and only the following, are protestable:
- The protesting player gave an answer which is factually correct and acceptable given the rules and guidelines regarding correctness of answers, and that given answer was not accepted. (This protest may be lodged either in instances of obvious answer line error, such as a tossup on World War II whose listed answer is “Lewis Carroll,” or in instances where an always-acceptable alternative answer, such as the original-language title or a plausible pronunciation given English phonetics, is not listed in the answer line or known to be acceptable by the moderator. See Section F, “Ruling on Answers,” and Section G, “Detailed Correctness Guidelines”.)
- The question text is ambiguous such that, given the entirety of the question text that was read out, the answer the player gave is correct and would reasonably be accepted by an otherwise knowledgeable person without access to the answer line. This type of protest cannot be lodged unless the moderator has read at least one clue (See A.7).
- The listed acceptable answer in the packet was unreasonably specific, and the player gave an unlisted answer which reasonably uniquely identifies the same thing as the listed answer.
- The tossup or bonus part has no single correct answer, either because distinct clues (See A.7) have been read that each uniquely identify two or more distinct non-interchangeable answers, or because all clues that have been read thus far are factually incorrect. (Factual correctness includes clues which fundamentally misidentify the desired answer – e.g. a question which indicates the desired answer is an element when it is instead a chemical compound.)
- The player gave a correct but not sufficiently specific answer, and should have been prompted, but was ruled incorrect instead of being prompted. (This includes, but is not limited to, cases in which the answer line included a prompt instruction that the moderator did not see, or in which the guidelines in Section G would normally provide for a prompt that the moderator did not give.)
- The opposing team gained points for an answer which should have been ruled incorrect, but was ruled correct due either to moderator error or to an error in the packet.
- Nothing else is protestable.
- “What the moderator heard” is not protestable. In cases where both teams agree that the moderator ruled mistakenly on an answer based on a hearing error, they may bring this to the moderator’s attention and the moderator will re-evaluate the answer which was actually given.
- Procedural complaints are not protests. If a participant on either team notices that a game official has made a mistake in adhering to the procedures laid out in these rules, that participant may bring the mistake to the moderator’s attention between the reading of one question and the next; the moderator shall then note the issue and determine immediately how to proceed from that point onward. (Some examples of situations that might warrant a procedural complaint include: giving players a one-second warning on tossups, See C.9; failing to give a bounceback opportunity in the event that bouncebacks are being used at the tournament, See Section EX; taking a given answer directed by the wrong player, See Section D; improvising clues not provided in the packet or giving extra hints after all clues to a question have been read, See C.16.) A procedural complaint is never grounds to “restart” the game or replace any questions outside the ongoing cycle or, if it arises between cycles, outside the most recently concluded cycle.
- (Moderator judgment calls of any kind, such as timing calls, rulings that a buzz was accidental, discovery of conferring, and the levying of sanctions for misconduct, are never protestable.)
- (The mere fact that a single clue or combination of clues could, in a vacuum, refer to multiple possible answers is not protestable, unless all clues up to the point at which a player buzzed in could refer specifically to the answer the player gave.)
- (Subjective opinions about the quality of a question, including that a clue was “too early” or “too easy,” or that a clue was vague or poorly-phrased or unhelpful, or that a clue was difficult to understand due to grammatical stylistic choices, or that a question was “bad,” etc. etc. are never grounds for protest.)
- (The failure of a question to be of a specific category, or the failure of the questions in a match to conform to an expected “distribution” of categories — e.g., “this round only had three science tossups” — is not protestable.)
- (The mere fact that the answer given by a player is related to the clues in a question, or related to the actual answer of the question, is not protestable. In particular, players may not protest that the answer they gave “is associated with” the clues they heard unless they can specify an issue of factual accuracy under the legitimate grounds for protest listed above.)
- (The mere presence of a minor factual error is not protestable if that error creates no ambiguity with regard to the desired answer, based on a knowledgeable person’s correction of the error. For example: there are no grounds for protest if question text states “The author of the novel Snow Country, Kenzaburo Oe, is from this country,” as both the actual author of Snow Country and Kenzaburo Oe are both from Japan, and either way of rectifying the error would uniquely identify the desired answer of Japan.)
- (A team may not protest that the opposing team gave an answer which was accepted but should merely have been prompted; e.g. Team A cannot protest that Team B’s answer of “Freud” should have required a prompt in the hopes of the more specific answer “Sigmund Freud”.)
- (A team cannot protest that the other team was prompted, except in cases where giving a prompt on an outright incorrect or unacceptable answer results on an unwarranted chance at points.)
- Multiple protests may be lodged concerning the same question.
- There is no limit to the number of protests a team may lodge during a match. The moderator may judge the excessive lodging of frivolous protests, or the excessive indication of intent to protest, to be misconduct (See Section I).
- While lodging a protest, a team may cite academic sources or resources as needed as evidence for their protest, provided that no player or coach uses any forbidden electronic devices or printed notes/sources while there are still questions yet to read in the game. Citation of, or lookup within, at-hand print or electronic sources after the game to strengthen the rationale for a protest before that protest is reported to the tournament director does not in and of itself constitute cheating, tampering, or any other form of misconduct (See I.5).
- Unless the tournament director dictates otherwise, a protest will be resolved if and only if resolving that protest could change the win-loss outcome of the match. (Protests which must be resolved are also known as pending protests.) In the event that one or more protests need to be resolved from a particular match, the moderator shall report the specifics of all such protests to the tournament director, and the tournament director shall ensure proper resolution of each protest from that point on. All protests whose resolution could not change the win-loss outcome of the match are rendered moot; moot protests are not relayed or resolved.
- In the event that a match has a tied score after regulation play and protests have been lodged which could affect the outcome so as to make the match not a tie upon being resolved, the teams should play through the usual tiebreaker procedure until the match has a winner before any protests are resolved. If the reading of tiebreaker questions determines a winner such that lodged protests would not change the win-loss outcome of the game, those protests become moot and need not be resolved (See C.6.)
- If a match was tied after regulation play, and then a protest from regulation play is upheld, such that the score after regulation play is no longer a tie, all tiebreaker questions and changes in score from any tiebreaker questions are undone prior to other procedures for upholding the protest (See C.6).
- The tournament director has the ultimate authority to resolve all pending protests; this authority allows for delegating the resolution of protests to another individual official or to a committee, whether that be for the duration of the tournament or on a case-by-case basis.
- The tournament director may request or mandate that all protests be delivered by the use of written sheets on which the substance of the protest is explained by each team affected, rather than by a verbal report of the circumstances from the moderator.
- The report of a protest to the tournament director or the tournament director’s delegates should never, under any circumstances, disclose the specific team which protested a question. If possible, all information about the specific teams involved in a protest should be redacted when the protest is reported.
- The tournament director’s authority to resolve pending protests, and any authority delegated by the tournament director to other people, includes the authority to choose the order in which protests from a single match are resolved in the event that there are multiple protests. If resolving some number of protests within a match renders the remaining protests moot, those mooted protests need not be resolved, irrespective of when they were lodged during the match.
- A protest can be resolved in one of two ways: it can be denied or it can be upheld. If a protest is denied, all original scoring on the affected question(s) remains unchanged. If a protest is upheld, the moderator shall follow the procedures below, as soon as is practicable, to restore the condition of the game as though the error had not been made.
- (Resolution A) If the protest resolution determines that a player gave a correct answer which was erroneously ruled incorrect (See H.5.a; H.5.b; H.5.c), all existing score changes due the affected tossup or bonus part will be undone (including all bonus points earned during the affected cycle, in the event that the protest was lodged on a tossup), and the player’s team will be given the proper number of points for a correct answer. In the event that the incorrect-to-correct change is made regarding a tossup answer, both teams will be reseated, and a replacement bonus will be read to the player’s team so as to complete a new cycle, and any score changes from the new cycle are included in the official score.
- (Resolution B) If the protest resolution determines that there was no possible correct answer to a tossup or bonus part (See H.5.d), the question will be thrown out, all score changes due to the affected question will be undone (including all bonus points earned during the affected cycle, in the event that the protest was lodged on a tossup), and a replacement question of the same kind, tossup or bonus, will be read to the same team or teams which were eligible to give an answer before. In the event that a tossup is replaced in this way and the replacement tossup is correctly answered by same team which correctly answered the original tossup, the bonus points from the original bonus are maintained, rather than reading a new bonus; otherwise, a replacement bonus will be read so as to complete a replacement cycle, and any score changes from the replacement cycle are included in the official score. (Any replacement tossup read in keeping with Resolution B is read to both teams. In the event that a single bonus part is invalidated by Resolution B, an entire replacement bonus is read in accordance with Rule E.10.)
- (Resolution C) If the protest resolution determines that a player or team should have been prompted on a bonus part, but was ruled incorrect instead of being prompted (See H.5.e), the original bonus will be thrown out and a replacement bonus will be read (See E.10). If the protest resolution determines that a player or team should have been prompted on a tossup, but was ruled incorrect instead of being prompted, the original tossup will be thrown out and a replacement tossup will be read to the protesting team, on which the opposing team may not buzz in. In the event of a replacement tossup, all original scoring from the protested cycle will stand (including any points earned on the bonus within that cycle) unless the protesting team gives a correct answer to the replacement tossup. If the protesting team gives a correct answer to the replacement tossup, it earns a bonus so as to complete a replacement cycle, all changes in score from the originally-protested cycle are undone, and any score changes from the replacement cycle are included in the official score.
- (Resolution D) If the protest resolution determines that the opposing team was ruled correct for a given answer which was incorrect (See H.5.f), all changes in score due to the affected question or part will be undone (including all bonus points earned during the affected cycle, in the event that the protest was lodged on a tossup). In the event that the affected question is a tossup and the protesting team lost an opportunity to buzz in due to the error which led to the protest, a replacement tossup will be read which only the protesting team may play. If the protesting team gives a correct answer to the replacement tossup, it earns a replacement bonus so as to complete a replacement cycle, and any score changes from the replacement cycle are included in the official score.
- If the resolution of a protest creates a tie in score where there was no tie before, the teams will play tiebreaker questions under the usual procedure. (See C.6.)
- If a protest resolution results in a replacement tossup taking the place of a pre-existing tiebreaker tossup for which no corresponding bonus is awarded, no bonus is awarded for answering that replacement tossup correctly either.
- The decision of whether to hold teams in the game room while a protest is being resolved, or to let those teams advance to their next match(es) (conveying the protest resolution to those teams later on), is at the tournament director’s discretion.
- The decision of whether or not to let moderators conduct provisional gameplay [or hypothetical gameplay] before protests are officially resolved is at the discretion of the tournament director. Provisional gameplay consists of reading any replacement or additional questions which would be required in the event that pending protest(s) are upheld, and taking note of the changes in score that result. In the event that some or all of the pending protest(s) are indeed upheld, the corresponding score changes from hypothetical gameplay are made official.
- A protest is considered resolved once its resolution has been conveyed to both teams. No team may attempt to communicate to the tournament director or the tournament director’s delegates about the ongoing resolution of a protest prior to receiving word about the official resolution from tournament staff. Attempting to tamper with the resolution of a protest while it is ongoing is a form of severe misconduct (See I.5.e).
- All protests which require a resolution will be resolved exactly one time. All protest resolutions are final. No protest resolution may be reversed, appealed, or revisited at any time, for any reason.
I. Ethics and Conduct
- Each person present at a quizbowl match or tournament is expected to behave respectfully, courteously, and ethically to all other people present; to respect and follow these rules to the best of their knowledge; and to obey all relevant dictates of the tournament director and other tournament officials. Participants and spectators at quizbowl tournaments are additionally expected to adhere to all applicable local laws, and to all administrative rules regarding the appropriate use of facilities and properties in which matches are held.
- All spectators [or audience members] who watch a match must be physically separated from all active players and game officials, and may not speak, make deliberate noise, or attempt to communicate nonverbally with active players or game officials while a match is ongoing.
- The moderator has the authority to eject any spectator(s) from a game room while the match is ongoing after just one instance of misconduct, without any prior warning.
- In particular, spectators may not encourage either team to lodge a protest. Spectators may not relay outside information (such as information looked up on a mobile electronic device) to players or coaches for the purpose of lodging protests or for any other reason.
- Misconduct consists of any behavior which violates the expected respect, courtesy, and ethical obligations required for duly conducting a quizbowl match. The moderator shall have authority to remark upon instances of misconduct as they occur, and sanction them as permitted below, even if it would require pausing the match to do so.
- Under no circumstances shall points be deducted from the score of a team within a match, or added to the opposing team’s score, to punish a participant or team for engaging in misconduct. The score of a quizbowl match can only be changed by the giving of answers to questions or by the resolution of protests.
- Minor misconduct consists of any behavior which briefly disrupts the ability for a match to continue smoothly, efficiently, and fairly. The moderator has the authority and discretion to provide a warning to any participant in a match for their first instance of minor misconduct within that match, and may eject any participant from the room for the remainder of the match for a second or later instance of minor misconduct within that match.
- Examples of minor misconduct include the use of psychological ploys to confuse or misdirect the opposing team or the moderator, the deliberate making of disruptive noise (in ways not governed elsewhere in these rules by prohibitions on conferring), or the use of malicious or disrespectful language toward another participant in the match.
- The lodging of frivolous protests, either through repeated lodging of protests regarding matters which are not protestable or through excessive lodging of allowed types of protests on extremely tenuous or speculative factual grounds, constitutes minor misconduct.
- Unsportsmanlike delay of game, such as deliberately giving the longest acceptable answer to every question, making requests for score checks after every cycle, etc. constitutes minor misconduct if, in the view of the moderator, it interferes with the swift and timely completion of the match. It never constitutes unsportsmanlike delay of game to use any and all time allotted by these rules to think before giving an answer, or to do so at every available opportunity.
- Severe misconduct constitutes any behavior which threatens the very fairness and safety required for quizbowl, as an activity and a community, to continue. The tournament director has the authority to eject any participant from the tournament immediately for one instance of severe misconduct, or for a pattern of lesser misconduct over the course of the day. All decisions by the tournament director regarding ejections are final and may not be appealed.
- Any physical violence, attempted physical violence, or physical intimidation committed by any player, coach, spectator, or game official against any player, coach, spectator, game official, or tournament director, or designated assistant of the tournament director, or any destruction of property, be that equipment used in the match or destruction or defacing of property within the game room or host institution, constitutes severe misconduct.
- Cheating, defined as any attempt by a competing team member or coach to access question content before it is read out in the proper match, or any deliberate attempt outside the rules to access external information about the potential answers to questions while they are being read, or any deliberate use of an ineligible person as a participant, constitutes severe misconduct. (Use of disallowed personal electronic devices, reference sources, or notes while a match is ongoing constitutes cheating. Outside a tournament itself, conversations about specific question content between a person who has not played a question set with a person who has already played that question set constitute cheating. Playing one question set at a second tournament after already playing it once elsewhere constitutes cheating; the burden is on each team to keep track of which question sets it has already played and where. If a team at a tournament realizes that it has inadvertently already played a question set on which it is competing, that team must immediately report the issue and forfeit all remaining matches at that tournament.) All participants in a match or tournament share responsibility in reporting instances where cheating may have occurred, and are expected to cooperate fully in investigations of potential cheating.
- Throwing a match, defined as any attempt by one or more participants to set the winner and loser of a match before that match is played, or to fix the relative standings of teams at a tournament or subcomponent of a tournament before it has concluded, constitutes severe misconduct. All teams are expected to play honestly and to the best of their ability with the aim of winning each game, irrespective of the place of any other team(s) in the tournament standings or any other factor. Automatic forfeits of a scheduled match due to one team’s absence from the tournament, medical emergency, and irreparable scenarios of that sort do not constitute throwing a match.
- Extreme partiality of game officials, such as grossly unfair or inequitable application of these rules in favor of one team or school, or attempts to unduly influence the officiation of a match in favor of one team or school, or other behavior which compromises the effective neutrality of a game official between competing teams, constitutes severe misconduct. Any player or coach present for a match may report instances of extreme partiality to the tournament director or, if the tournament director is not available, to another game official. The tournament director has the authority to dismiss and/or replace game officials who are found to demonstrate extreme partiality.
- Tampering with tournament director decisions, including seeking out the tournament director to argue for a favorable protest resolution for one’s team while a protest is still under review, intimidating tournament officials into changing the schedule of matches, entering into a designated staff-only room without invitation, etc. constitutes severe misconduct. Pointing out an earnest mistake (e.g.: one team is slated to be in two places at once) does not constitute tampering.
- The use of epithets or slurs insulting a participant’s race, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. constitutes severe misconduct.
- The current or past institutional affiliations of a game official, or lack thereof, are never in and of themselves sufficient cause to allege misconduct. (For example, if the moderator is a current student, alumnus/a, or faculty member of one of the schools competing in a match, the other school does not have grounds to allege extreme partiality or demand a replacement moderator on that grounds alone.)
- At the discretion of the tournament director, either while a tournament is ongoing or afterward, the results of matches in which severe misconduct was found to occur may be changed to forfeits. Teams with just one member who has engaged in severe misconduct may be removed from further contention at that tournament in such a way as the tournament director sees fit.
Appendix 1: Online play
The following rules are designed to adapt ACF rules to online quizbowl; they are also included in the ruleset above, but are collected here for your convenience.
- Section A.2.A: “In the case of an online tournament, [a game room] may be a virtual room. If the tournament requires video, all players should have video on, unless given prior permission by the tournament director or the other players in the game. Tournament directors may define requirements for video as they see fit.”
- Section A.8.A: “When possible, players should give spoken responses. Typed or written responses should only be used if spoken responses are not feasible.”
- Section B.1.A: “Online tournaments may use a buzzer system which either locks out all other users from signaling once any one individual user has signaled, or preserves a record of which player buzzed first. In situations where there may be different records of who buzzed first (such as an Internet chat client), the moderator’s record shall be final.”
- Section B.3: Specify that a buzz may alternatively preserve a record of where a player buzzed in relation to other players.
- Section B.7.B: “The [rule prohibiting personal electronic devices] also does not apply to devices used to compete in online tournaments. A player playing an online tournament may use a personal electronic device such as a laptop to compete in the tournament, but may not use any functions of the personal electronic device other than what is necessary to compete. The player may not use any personal electronic devices that are not being used to compete in the tournament while playing the tournament.”
- Section D.4.A: “In the event that a player gives an incorrect answer, the moderator shall clear the buzzer system and disregard all prior buzzes by the other team before continuing.”
- Section D.6.A: “For an online tournament, players will have eight seconds after recognition to give an answer. This timing restriction applies to both spoken and typed answers. Unlike in-person tournaments, moderators must recognize the player who buzzed in and is eligible to answer the question.”
- Section DX.2.B: “Whether or not a player buzzed before, at, or within less than a syllable after the power mark is a matter of moderator judgment, and is not protestable. A player will be considered to have buzzed once the moderator stops speaking.”
- Section E.2.A: “For an online tournament, teams will have eight seconds to give an answer after the bonus part has been read in full.”
- Section E.4.A: “For an online tournament, a team shall direct a response to the moderator by prepending ”Our answer is” to their answer. Moderators should only consider responses preceded by “Our answer is.” (For example, for a bonus part on Sextus Empiricus, the answering team should say “Our answer is Sextus Empiricus” to have their answer ruled upon.)”
- Section E.4.A: “In addition to the above rule about teams directing answers, during online tournaments moderators shall consider directed the first answer given by a team after the moderator prompts them for an answer at the six-second mark, regardless of if the answer is preceded by a directing phrase or not. This does not apply to prompts given for the correctness of an answer, but only to prompts given for reasons of time.”
- Section E.5: Specify that moderators should prompt for an answer to a bonus part after six seconds for an online tournament, and give two seconds thereafter to respond.
- Section G.20: Typed responses will be held to the same correctness guidelines as spoken responses.