These are the rules used by the Minnesota High School Quiz Bowl league:
Each school may field one or more teams during each season of the league. This is a fixed number for the duration of the league: A school that brings three teams to the first night of competition is expected to bring three teams to the subsequent nights as well.
In general, a team will have four players "in the game" at any time (though it is legal to compete with fewer). Teams may have more than four people: The others are "alternates" who may substitute in between games or during a game when play has been stopped (such as before the lightning rounds or during a time-out).
No player may change teams during a single night's games. If a player starts out playing/alternating for a school's A team, he or she must continue to play/alternate for the A team for the rest of the night. He or she may be moved to a different team prior to the next night's games.
Each game will include 19 minutes of competition time broken into three phases:
The first phase consists of tossup questions which, if answered correctly, earn a player's team a chance at a bonus question. The first phase involves 8 minutes of gameplay.
The second phase will consist of lightning round questions. The team with the lower score will choose from three topics and then have one minute to answer as many of the ten parts of the lightning round as possible. After that has been completed, the other team will have a chance to convert any parts that the first team missed (in 30 seconds). Then the second team will choose from among the remaining two topics and repeat the process.
The fourth phase will last 8 minutes and will consist of tossup and bonus questions, just like the first phase.
Tossups questions are the "individual" phase of the game. A player may signal ("buzz") to answer a tossup at any point after the moderator has begun reading it. The moderator will stop as soon as a player has signaled. Only one player per team may signal to answer each tossup, and only that player may give an answer. Players must begin their answer within 2 seconds after having been recognized, or time will be called. Teammates may not consult about the answer during a tossup question.
Tossup questions are normally worth 10 points each, but answering a tossup very early will earn an extra 5 "power points" (for a total of 15 points). There is no point reduction for answering a tossup incorrectly.
If a player's answer to a tossup is incorrect, the moderator will, finish reading the question for the other team. The question remains a tossup (and thus subject to the rule on conferral). If a player on the second team signals and answers correctly, the second team earns the bonus. If the second team's player is incorrect, the tossup goes "dead." The moderator will provide the correct answer and move on to the next tossup.
If a player answers a tossup correctly, their team will earn a bonus question. Despite the singular name, a bonus question will consist of three parts with a theme (e.g., "For 10 points each--name these plays by William Shakespeare."). The bonus question will be read one part at a time. Teams should consult on each part, and then have the captain give their answer to the moderator. Each part of a bonus answered correctly is worth 10 points. There are no penalties for incorrect answers on bonuses.
Each part of a lightning round answered correctly is worth 10 points. If a team answers all ten parts correctly, it earns a bonus 20 points (for a total of 120). There are no penalties for incorrect answers on tossups.
After the moderator has finished reading a tossup, players have 3 seconds to signal. If one team gives an incorrect answer at this point, the other team has another 3 seconds in which to signal. The exception to this rule is for computation tossups (which allow 10 seconds).
When the clock signals the end of the first or third phases of play, the moderator will complete any tossup-bonus cycle that has been begun. The clock does not, therefore, "end the match," but rather indicates that the game will be over after the completion of the current tossup-bonus cycle. When the clock expires during a lightning round, that portion is immediately concluded.
Teams may confer on bonuses. The captain (or a player designated by the captain) should give the team answer. If no answer has been given after 5 seconds, the moderator will prompt for an answer. Following a moderator's prompt, the captain must immediately begin to answer or immediately designate a teammate to answer, and that person must begin after no more than a natural pause, or time will be called. Bonus parts do not "bounce back": If a team answers them incorrectly, the other team does not get a shot at answering them.
Teams may also confer on lightning rounds, though the time constraints will make that limited. The moderator will not prompt on lightning parts. Teams will only get one shot at each part: They cannot "pass" parts and hope to come back around to them later after hearing all ten. As a result, teams should take their best guess at each part as it is read and then move on.
The moderator will prompt for additional information if an answer is correct, but less than what is required (except for the titles of works, which must usually be exact). Generally, the last names of persons are sufficient answers.
If the score is tied at the end of the third phase, the moderator will read three additional tossups (with no bonuses). If the score is still tied, the moderator will read single tossups until one is answered correctly.
For issues not covered here, the league will follow the official rules of National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC and its correctness guidelines for judging answers.