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College Bowl is pure, wholesome geek-fun. The game goes by a number of different names and there are variations the way its played, but in my high school and the ones nearby its called "College Bowl" (we're in high school- go figure) and these are the rules:

  1. A game is played by two opposing teams of four players each, and also includes a judge (obviously). Every player has a buzzer.
  2. When a free-respond question is asked, there is an interval of 5 seconds in which any player from either team can buzz in to give the correct answer. If he or she buzzes in before the judge is finished reading the question, and is incorrect, (s)he gets 1 point taken away from his/her team. Otherwise, if the given answer is correct, the responder's team gets one point.
  3. When a team gets a correct answer to a free-respond question, the proctor proceeds to ask its member a bonus question, which only they can answer. There is an interval of 30 seconds in which the team members can confer on the question and decide on an answer which their captain, who sits closest to the judge, tells to him/her. If the answer is correct, that team gets 1 point.
  4. Regardless of whether a team gets a correct or incorrect answer in a bonus question, the next question is another free-respond.
  5. A game takes half an hour, and is made up of two 15-minute rounds. In between rounds 1 and 2 a team can make substitutions. Usually the captain rotates out the 1 or 2 lowest performing players in round 1 and inserts other players.
I know, it sounds dumb. But the game is ideal for brilliant, fidgety people. This is my second year as captain of my school's varsity college bowl team, and it is (sadly) the most satisfying things I have done in all my four years of high school.
The College Bowl I've played has slightly different rules than what Metacognizant describes, but then, I have only played in college.

"College Bowl" is technically the name of an organization (though it's sometimes used as a generic term), one of three major quiz bowl organizations in the U.S., which runs College Bowl tournaments on university campuses, used to run the College Bowl radio and television shows in the U.S. (and licenses their format for the University Challenge shows in Britain) and the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge for historically black colleges and universities.

The standard College Bowl college/university system of tournaments runs like this: each participating university has intramural competition to determine who will be on the team to represent that university at the regional tournament. A team is four students and an alternate, with a limit of one graduate student per team. The regional tournaments have all the participating schools from a few states get together; the winners of the 15 regional competitions and one wild-card team get to go to the national competition. The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge works a bit differently in determining who goes to their national championship, but the play of games is the same.

National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) and Academic Competition Federation are separate and competing quiz bowl organizations with slightly different sets of rules. College Bowl considers themselves the originators of the college quiz bowl format, but the other two are cheaper to be members of, and many schools send teams to competitions run by several organizations or run their own tournaments in the style of one or more of the major organizations.

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