Competition Information

Morning Round-robin

In the morning round-robin session, the 16 competing teams are divided into 4 divisions of 4 teams each; each team plays only the 3 other teams in its division. The first round of matches is a practice round with no scoring. After the practice round, teams stay in the same room and play each other for real in Round 2. At the end of the morning round-robin session, the 4 teams in each division are ranked #1 through #4 based on the total number of match points each has accumulated. If 2 or more teams in a division have the same number of match points, the tie(s) will be broken based (1st) on the teams’ head-to-head won-loss record and (2nd) on fewest losses. The schedule of team play in the morning round-robin competition session is found separately in the event folder.

Placing Procedure

To establish placement for the afternoon competition, the 4 top-ranked teams from the divisions will be placed 1st through 4th based on the total number of question points each team accumulated during the morning competition session. The team with the highest number of question points is the 1st place team. The second-ranked teams’ question points will be compared to establish places 5th through 8th; the third-ranked teams’ question points determine places 9th through 12th; and 13th through 16th places are determined by the question point totals of the forth-ranked team in each division, respectively. Placement between 2 teams with the same number of total question points from the morning round (an unlikely scenario) will be decided by a coin toss.

Afternoon Elimination Rounds

The afternoon competition session begins with a round pitting the higher-placed teams against the lower-placed teams from the morning round-robin competition: 1st place vs. 16th place; 2nd place vs. 15th place; etc. This first round of the afternoon session is a single-elimination round. Teams losing in this round are eliminated. Teams winning in the single elimination round are seeded for the double elimination round as shown in the separate Single Elimination Schedule in the event folder. In the double elimination competition, a team must lose two matches to be eliminated. Should a match in an elimination round result in a tie at the end of regulation time, each team is given 5 toss-up questions. The team answering the most questions correctly wins the match. The schedule of team play in the double elimination competition is found separately in the Double Elimination Schedule in the event folder.

Selected Rules of the Competition

Question Types

  • Three types of questions are used in the competition: paired toss-up and bonus questions, and team challenge questions. Each 30-minute match will consist of 6 minutes of toss-up/bonus questions (buzzer system employed), followed by two team challenge questions. After a 2-minute break, the match will conclude with 6 final minutes of toss-up/bonus questions.
  • Answers to team challenge questions must be written out within the time limit prescribed for that question; consultation between team members is allowed; a team, through its captain, submits one written answer. The buzzer system is not used. Challenges to the scoring of a team challenge question answer are not allowed.

Buzzing In

  • No player may buzz in before the moderator identifies the subject area of the question. If such occurs, the toss-up (and potentially, the bonus) question are given to the other team to answer.
  • Having buzzed in on a toss-up, a player must wait for verbal recognition from the moderator before answering. Failure to do so constitutes a, “blurt,” and gives the toss-up to the other team.
  • If a toss-up is read completely and answered incorrectly, the question is given (but not re-read) to the other team to attempt an answer.

Consultation Between Team Members

  • Allowed on team challenge and bonus questions, not on toss-up questions.
  • None whatsoever allowed between active players and coach or alternate.

Time Allowed to Answer Questions

  • 2 – 5 minutes on team challenge questions, depending on difficulty.
  • Once a toss-up question has been completely read, somebody must buzz in within five (5) seconds or the moderator moves to the next toss-up.
  • Once recognized by the moderator on a toss-up, a player must begin his/her answer within 3 seconds or the question is given to the other team.
  • On bonus questions, the team captain must begin his/her answer within twenty (20) seconds after the question was read.


Two types of points are involved in the competition. Match points are awarded to teams based on the results of a single match. The team winning a match gets 2 match points, the losing team gets 0 match points, and each team gets 1 match point in the event of a tie. Question points are awarded to a team during a match based on answers to questions. Question points are awarded as per the following:

Toss-up Questions
Read completely, answered correctly +4 points
Read completely, answered incorrectly 0 points
Interrupted, answered correctly +4 points
Interrupted, answered incorrectly -4 points
Unrecognized response (“blurt”) 0 points
Bonus Questions
Answered correctly +6 points
Answered incorrectly 0 points
Team Challenge Questions up to 20 points

The team with the most question points at the end of the 2nd 6-minute buzzer period wins the match. In the morning round-robin session, ties between teams at the end of a match are allowed to stand. In the afternoon elimination sessions, ties are broken by asking 5 toss-up questions. Scoring of tie-breaker toss-up questions is as described for toss-up questions during normal competition. The team accumulating the most points from these 5 questions wins the match.

Only competing students may challenge, based on a rules violation or a science issue. These challenges will be dealt with by the rules and sciences judges in the competition room. Appeals to the ruling of a rules or science judge can be made only by a competing student and will be referred to the “Appeals Board” in Bowl Central. Rulings by the Appeals Board are final.

Copies of the complete NOSB competition rules are available at the Registration Table