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All Idaho High Schools, both private and public, are invited to participate in the INL Scholastic Tournament. Each school must participate in the division that applies to its enrollment:

  • Class “A” (576 students and above), or
  • Class “B” (190-575) or
  • Class “C” (189 and below).
Schools participate in the region where they are located. (Regions are the same as those developed by the Idaho High School Activities Association):
  • North Region is made up of the Coeur d’Alene, Moscow and Lewiston areas (Districts 1 & 2),
  • West Region is made up of the Boise and Twin Falls areas (Districts 3 & 4) and
  • East Region is made up of the Pocatello and Idaho Falls areas (Districts 5 & 6).

Schools may have as many teams as they wish. The teams may compete among themselves, and coaches may choose which teams will compete in practice and league games.

However, only one team may represent a school at regional and state tournaments. That team must be composed of the same players throughout regional and state matches. However, substitutions may be listed prior to regionals if a player becomes ill or for some other reason cannot participate.

Each team must have at least four players and no more than twelve in tournament competition. A team with fewer than four players must forfeit the game. Each team must have a coach or advisor at the game or it may not compete.


Each school will select its own coach, who must be an adult. The coach may be selected from the faculty, PTA or PTO, or from the community in which the school is located. The coach is responsible for the team’s decorum, both before and after the competition, as well as during the game.

The coach may change players during the contest, but only during the half-time break.


Eligible players must be registered students (freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors) at the school they are representing. They may not be graduate students. Selection of students is the responsibility of the school, and the school may use whatever method desired in making the selection.

Each team is allowed as many as 12 players and as few as four at the regional competition. All players, however, must be present at the regional meet in order to be listed on the regional registration form submitted by the coach/team at the time of registration.

Teams qualifying for the state tournament will be allowed 10 players and each player must have been listed as part of the 12 that attended the regional competition. No exceptions will be allowed.


The five players on the board with the buzzers are referred to as “panelists.” Panelists may participate in all questions (i.e., toss-up, bonus, lightning round). Alternates may be moved to the panel at half-time; the replaced panelists then become alternates during the second half.


Each team may have up to three alternates during a game. Alternates may participate in answering bonus and lightning round, as determined by the coach (see Lightning Round). A coach may move a player from alternate to panelist, but only during half-time.


Each team may have up to three substitutes. Substitutes may not play as a panelist or alternate once a game has begun. A coach may, however, have a substitute play as either a panelist or alternate at the beginning of any new game.

Team Captain

One panelist is selected by the team to serve as “team captain.” The captain is to sit in the first position on the panel (captains may choose to sit in a different position during the lightning round). The team captain is the only member of the team who can call “pass” during lightning round or bonus questions. He or she is responsible for voicing the team’s answers to bonus questions or deferring to another player to answer a bonus question. A coach may designate a new captain only at half-time.

Match Personnel

The game or contest requires a quizmaster, judge, scorekeeper, timer and two teams. Both teams will use buzzer systems to signal an intention to answer a question. Each panelist will have a buzzer with which to indicate a desire to answer a question. The quizmaster or scorekeeper may serve as timekeeper.


The length of the contest will be approximately 22 minutes (10 minutes for each half, two minutes for lightning rounds). The game ends when the second-half clock buzzes.

The time for each half or round begins when the quizmaster starts reading a question and will run continuously through that half or round unless a judgment is needed, in which case the time stops, and will be restarted with the start of the next question.

A team will be allowed to answer a question if its buzzer sounds before the game buzzer sounds, signifying the end of the half or the end of the game. If it is a toss-up question and the team answers correctly, the team will also get to answer the ensuing bonus question.

The lightning round, which occurs between halves, lasts 60 seconds per team (they may not complete an answer after the 60 seconds).

As the game progresses, a team may not wish to use all of the 20 seconds allowed when answering a bonus question. They may answer as quickly as possible in order to have more toss-up questions introduced, or they might not know the answer to the bonus question and pass, asking the quizmaster to go on to the next toss-up question. The captain of the team must make such requests.

If time is taken for a judgment or question on scoring, the clock will be stopped during that period.

Toss-up Questions

The game will begin with the quizmaster asking a toss-up question. Any panelist may push the buzzer at any time, even before the question has been completed, to indicate intent of answering.

The player who has successfully buzzed in must wait for the quizmaster to recognize him/her by name prior to answering the question. Each team will be issued one warning per game. After one warning, any player who answers prior to being recognized will have the answer ruled incorrect and his or her team will lose five points. If the player answers incorrectly, that player’s team loses five points and a player on the opposing team may answer the question or wait for the rest of the question to be read before answering.

After a toss-up question is read, panelists must buzz in within 10 seconds. Following the toss-up question, if a player successfully buzzes, the player must be ready to answer, allowing only for a natural pause before beginning to answer. At his or her own discretion, or approximately two seconds, the quizmaster will declare “time” and the team will lose five points. This time period is a judgment call and will be determined solely by the quizmaster.

On the first reading of a toss-up question, a player on either team may ask the quizmaster to repeat all or part of the question. However, another player (on either team when the question is a toss-up question) may push their buzzer during the re-reading and that player will then have a chance to answer the question at that point. If the time to answer (10 seconds for toss-up or 20 seconds for bonus questions) expires prior to the second reading being completed and neither team has buzzed in, the answer to the question will be given by the quizmaster and play will continue.

A panelist must buzz in on a toss-up question within 10 seconds following the question. If team "A" buzzes in first and answers incorrectly, team "B" has 10 seconds after control of the question has been turned over to team “B.” This “control of the question” might simply be the quizmaster saying “team B, same question.”

Only the person who first buzzes may answer the toss-up question. If another member of the team calls out the answer, or prompts the player who buzzed in, the answer will not be accepted and the team will be scored with an incorrect answer.

If neither team can answer a toss-up question, then the quizmaster will state the answer before continuing on to the next question.

Bonus Questions

A correct answer to a toss-up question entitles the team a chance at a bonus question worth five points. All eight members (five panelists plus three alternates) may confer to decide the answer to the bonus question. The team has 20 seconds in which to begin their answer. This will be determined by whether the team captain buzzes in before the allotted 20 seconds comes to an end. Only the team captain can give the answer. There will be no loss of points for a wrong answer on a bonus question. The team captain may defer to another player to give the answer.

Lightning Round

Immediately following the first half of the contest, the quizmaster will announce the “lightning round.”

In the lightning round, each team competes individually and against time only. Lightning round members may consist of any of the panelists or alternates competing in the first round, but not to exceed five. The team trailing the match after the first round is to leave the room for a location where the lightning round questions cannot be heard. The team remaining in the room is given 60 seconds, and the clock starts when the quizmaster begins the first question. The quizmaster will ask questions as fast as the team can answer. Any panelist can play by calling out an answer without using the buzzer. For a correct answer, the team gets five points. An incorrectly answered question results in no loss of points and any panelist (including the one who answered incorrectly) may continue to try answering correctly.

The quizmaster is not to move on to the next question until the current question is either answered correctly or the team captain calls “pass.” The call of “pass” will be accepted only from the captain. At the end of 60 seconds, the lightning round ends.

When the first team has completed its lightning round, the second team returns to the room and has 60 seconds to answer the same questions, with no limit on the number of questions.

In the process of reading questions during the lightning round, the quizmaster may find it difficult to hear if a correct answer to a question has been given. The quizmaster may confer with the judge to determine if a correct answer was spoken.

After both lightning rounds, a break of approximately two-minutes will be taken to allow coaches to discuss strategy and make player changes if desired.

Incorrectly Read Questions

If while reading a question, the quizmaster accidentally reveals the answer, he or she may declare the mistake and have the question discarded without loss or advantage to either team. If the quizmaster mistakenly gives the answer to a question after a team answers incorrectly, the team will still be charged with a loss of five points. The same question will not be given to the opposing team. Play will resume with a new toss-up question available for either team.

If the quizmaster “botches” a question and feels it is too confusing to be clearly understood, he or she may throw it out and move on to the next question without loss or advantage to either team.


Each correct answer to a toss-up question is worth 10 points. If the first team attempting to answer a toss-up question answers incorrectly, the team loses five points. However, if the second team answers the question incorrectly, there is no loss of points.

Each correct answer to a bonus question is worth five points. An incorrect answer to a bonus question results in no loss of points. Likewise, each correctly answered lightning round question is worth five points, and an incorrect answer to a lightning round question results in no loss of points.

It is the responsibility of team coaches to monitor the official scoring. They should conscientiously watch to see that the score is always correct. If a mistake occurs, only the coach or team captain may bring it to the attention of the quizmaster (see Challenges).


The first answer given will be the only one accepted.

If a team does not give an answer identical to the one held by the quizmaster, the judge will determine if the answer is sufficient to be ruled correct. The decision of the judge will be final, even if after the contest it can be proven that the judge erred. A judgment must be made on the spot and the game will proceed. The judge may independently determine an answer to be inadequate or the quizmaster may ask for a judgment.

If the answer to any question is inaudible to the quizmaster, he or she may ask for the answer to be repeated.


Any protest or point of order must be directed to the quizmaster. Any challenge that is raised must occur immediately following the issue being challenged and before the next question is read in its entirety. If a challenge is raised, the quizmaster will ask for the clock to be stopped, a decision will be made immediately and the match will proceed.

All final decisions will be made by the judge. He or she may or may not request help and/or input of the quizmaster and/or coaches in making a final decision. Any challenge not raised prior to the final buzzer (unless the event happened during the final question series) will not be accepted, and the final score will stand. In some cases, the quizmaster, judge and competing team coaches may leave the room in order to make a final decision.

End of the Game

The game ends when the final 10 minutes of the second round ends, unless the score is tied. At that point, the overtime rule applies.

If a team buzzes in on a toss-up question and the game clock buzzes immediately after, ending either round one or the game, then the team may answer the toss-up question, and bonus question if earned. However, if the team misses the toss-up, the opposing team will not be allowed to answer the same question, and the round or match will be declared over.


In the event of a tie at the end of a game, both teams will play an overtime. In overtime, both teams will remain in the room and the general rules for toss-up questions will apply, however, there will be no loss of points for the team buzzing in first and answering incorrectly. In that situation, and as in regular rules, the second team will be allowed to answer the same question. There will be no bonus questions during overtime.

A minimum of three questions will be read and the first team to answer two questions correctly will be declared the winner.

Buzzing In

Each of the five panelists will have a buzzer for signaling an intention to answer a question. The buzzer systems should be the type that allows the first person to successfully push their button, and then locks out all other attempts. The buzzers should be reset by the quizmaster following each question or each attempted incorrect answer in a lightning round, if buzzing is the chosen method. Also see “Answers” for further instructions on buzzing in and answering.

Judges’ Decisions

See “Answers.”

Substitutions or Changes

Panelists and alternates may be changed only during half time. The only changes allowed during an official game are to change a player from alternate to panelist or from panelist to alternate. Substitutes may be inserted into a game only between matches. A coach may also change the team captain designation at half time and/or include any of the eight competing members as part of the lightning round team.

Revised: 11/10


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