Picture of Gordian Knot

About the Gordian Knot

First of all, in case you haven't guessed, Matt Colvin is responsible for the graphic above. Now for the definition:
Gord·i·an Knot (gourd' ee an not') n., pl. -knots.
1. Benet's. An intricate problem 2. The QuizWizard II buzzer system owned and abused by the Maryland team, and possibly by Berkeley as well. The QuizWizard II has 16 individual buzzers coming out of a hole in its control panel. Each buzzer cord is nearly 12 feet long, and all 16 of them inevitably become tangled up in an inextricable mess, hence the nickname "The Gordian Knot." Players are usually happy to have 4 or 5 feet of buzzer cord free, content to leave the remaining 7 feet lost in a huge ball of tangled cables on the floor. The only way to tell who buzzed in is for the moderator to look at a digital LED display, then call out the letter and number of the person who buzzed in first, for example, "B3." Everyone in the room will then look at the letter and number printed on his buzzer, and whoever is holding B3 will answer. It sounds bad, but you get used to it, and it's worth it to know who buzzed in second and third ("And what were you going to say, you chucklehead?"). Starting in 1994, graduating Maryland players were presented with a severed buzzer from an old, defunct QuizWizard II. Sadly, it didn't sprout two new buzzers whenever one was cut off, so the team bought a Zeecraft buzzer system like the one pictured in the title graphic of the main page. But, a year later, an increasing number of dead slots on the Zeecraft compelled the purchase of another Gordian Knot in June of 1996. When Ken LaSala first saw the new system, he exclaimed "Look at it! It's evil!" A longstanding myth among Maryland players is that when two people buzz in at the same time, the buzzer with the lower number and letter will win out, and thus that the A1 buzzer is the best one to have.

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Maintained by David Hamilton
Comments, complaints can be sent to the author at dhamiltn@wam.umd.edu
Last updated March 18, 1999.