Apr 252013

buzzerScholar’s Bowl was one of my favorite extracurricular activities in high school.  Today, I got to experience it for the first time as a parent.  I don’t think anyone played in elementary school when I was growing up, but they do now.  I took the day off today and watched Nathan’s team sweep the tournament (7-0) and become county champions.  Congratulations, all!

So the basic format is question-answer.  For a toss-up question, the first person to buzz in and answer correctly wins the point for the team.  The team then gets an opportunity to answer a bonus question, which they can discuss for up to 30 seconds before giving an answer. That’s another point, if correct.

(That’s how it was scored today.  In my day (heh), a toss-up was 10 points, and the bonuses varied between 15 and 30 points.)

There’s another big rule change that I question, though.  For toss-up questions, if a team buzzes in and gets it wrong, then the other team gets a chance at it.  If a player on the other team buzzes in with the correct answer, then the other team gets a point.

Now here’s where the change is.  When I was playing, the team who answered the toss-up correctly after the other team missed it would still get a bonus question.  They didn’t today.  If your team got a toss-up after the other team missed it, then the point for the toss-up was all you could get.  No bonus, and move to the next toss-up.

That enables a rather severe exploit.  If your team has an 8-point lead and there are 7 toss-up questions left, you can ice it starting at question 14 (in a 20-question game) by simply buzzing in really early on every toss-up.  Say whatever and miss it, giving the other team a chance to answer it.  But without the bonus available, they can score at most 7 more points, so you’re guaranteed a win doing that.

Now that’s not very nice, but the rules permit it, so…?  You know?  We didn’t see it happen today, but I’m curious whether that rule change is present in high school, too.

Good times.  Congratulations again, Nathan and teammates!

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