Updated PACE ruleset for the 2016 NSC

PACE is pleased to announce that its official Gameplay Rules for the 2016 NSC have been uploaded to our website. For this year’s NSC, we have re-written our rule set from the ground up, instituting several changes to make the rulers clearer, more internally consistent, and less laden with archaic or informal jargon.

Several major changes are as follows:

  • Eligibility rules have been split off and will be maintained separately from the gameplay rules from now on. The eligibility rules for the 2016 NSC can also be found on our site as of today. All information about the schedule format of the NSC itself has also been separated from these rules. The main advantage of doing this is to make these rules more readily usable by TDs of local events outside the NSC itself.
  • For the sake of clarity, we have added “reminder text” in (parentheses and italics) at various points in the rules where a specific example might be helpful. We’ve also included internal cross-references to make it easier to see where rules interact across sections.
  • These rules contain exactly three layers of embedding — capital-lettered sections, numbered rules, and small-lettered sub-rules. There are no more sub-sub-layers below that, and all sections are numbered consistently in the above framework. This makes it easier to refer to specific rules and sub-rules by their section number.
  • Timeouts have been officially added to the rules. Even though NSC rounds do not take place on the clock, each team can now call for a “timeout” between cycles up to one time per game. These timeouts last up to 30 seconds and are not a substitution opportunity.
  • More detail is given on the official in-match role of coaches, including authorizing them to make substitutions, call for timeouts, lodge protests, and keep digital score on an approved electronic device provided that all other functions of that device are closed.
  • Some norms of PACE-affiliated quizbowl tournaments, which were previously not officially specified as rules, have been hard-coded into the rules. In particular, these rules require a 6-player cap on the roster of each team, de-officialize the role of captain (though any team which wants one can still have one), remove any necessity to say “defer” or “designate” for any member of a team to direct the team’s bonus answer to the moderator, specify that the moderator should read the next bonus in the packet even if some tossups go unanswered, and require that moderators relaying a protest withhold the name of protesting teams if possible.
  • Rules terminology has been adjusted and made consistent to help with clarity and consistency. Terms such as “cycle,” “regulation play,” “bounceback,” “match,” “controlling team,” and “[protest] upheld” have been added to official rules text. Previously-vague or ambiguous terms such as “prompt” and “answer” have been standardized in meaning. Informal or archaic terms and slang/jargon which once appeared in game rules (“neg,” “go dead,” “rebound,” “steal,” etc.) have either been eliminated or relegated entirely to reminder text, depending on how frequently they are used in today’s quizbowl parlance.
  • For the 2016 NSC forward, PACE has shifted over to the sudden-death tiebreaker format; a single tiebreaker tossup is read, and the first change in score determines the winner of the game.
  • These rules contain sections on powers, negs, bouncebacks, and tiebreakers which are optional and separated from the rest of the rules, so that local TDs can mix and match them for slight changes in game format. (The NSC itself is still using rounds of 20 tossups and up to 20 three-part bonuses, with 20-point powers and bouncebacks.) There is also a provision allowing for longer rounds in the event that a tournament has packets containing more than 20/20 each.
  • It is now specified that teams have three seconds to come up with a more specific answer upon being prompted for a more specific answer. The time available to give an answer to a bounceback has also been increased from two to three seconds.
  • The timing on giving “2 answers required” and “list bonus” answers has been changed so that players may pause between given answers of the list, so long as there is still time remaining in which to give the last answer and conclude the list. Merely pausing does not end one’s answer in such a case.
  • Over the past five years or so, some tournaments (including the 2012, 2013, and 2015 NSCs) have included select answer lines which instruct the moderator to “anti-prompt” the player to be less specific upon giving certain almost-acceptable answers. There is now a rule indicating that moderators may anti-prompt if, and only if, the answer line of a question contains express instructions to do so on exactly the answer the player gave (and at no other time). The absence of anti-prompt instructions is never protestable. Matches in which no question contains anti-prompt instructions are thus unaffected by this change.
  • The permissibility of amending one’s answer while giving it has been changed. Rather than permitting an entire given answer to be replaced so long as there has been no “unnatural pause,” the new rules only allow a player to amend a word which they are in the process of saying without having completed it. Aside from leading articles “a”, “an,” and “the,” as soon as a player completes a word, it’s irreversibly part of their answer.
  • More details on specific correctness guidelines are presented in a separate section after the basics of ruling on answers more generally (accepting, not accepting, prompting, etc.).
  • Players must make a reasonable attempted pronunciation of both the consonants and the vowels in their answer, in the proper order, to be ruled correct. (The notion that answers are “ACF-acceptable” even if any or all vowels are pronounced in an entirely implausible way is no longer valid.)
  • Some changes have been made to clarify and improve protest procedure, including more specifics on what is and is not protestable. In particular, the PACE rules now treat the quick interjection of the word ‘Protest!’ during gameplay as indication of intent to lodge a protest, with all protests being officially lodged (providing specific details to the moderator, etc.) at the half, at the end of regulation play, or after a tiebreaker question. Additionally, the use of written protest sheets at the TD’s discretion is now codified in the rules.
  • The ethics and conduct rules have been revised, largely to be more specific. The moderator now has the authority to issue warnings for minor misconduct, and to eject a player whose pattern of misconduct continues after being warned. Additionally, attempting to tamper with control room/TD decision-making (such as barging into a control room uninvited) is officially codified as misconduct.
  • It is now explicitly specified that players must silence and put away any/all electronic devices and pre-written notes before a match begins, though bringing blank paper or a notebook turned to a new page, so as to take personal notes, is permitted and encouraged.
  • The rule on making video or audio recordings of matches has been simplified. A recording of a match shouldn’t be made unless both teams, the moderator, and the tournament director all permit it.
  • While we of course hope that all participants at the 2016 have fun, “Have fun!” is no longer a rule — just an earnest wish!