General Rules for Verbal
These are the rules that the judges read to the teams,
and our comments on them.
- You will have one minute to select the five team
members who will compete. The others may leave or
stay to watch but may not assist.
- You will have one minute to think and two minutes
to respond. You may ask questions during your
thinking time; however, time continues. No other
talking is allowed.
- You will receive 1 point for each common
response. Highly creative or humorous responses
will receive 3 points. This will be a subjective
opinion of the judges, and the judges' decision
- A number has been placed before you. That is your
assigned number. A stack of cards appears before
you. When time begins, the judge will turn over
the first card. The team member whose number
corresponds to the card number will give the
first response. (When practicing, assign each
player a different number each time. The team
should stand around the table and not sit,
because standing teams seem to respond more
quickly and can reach the cards better.)
- After the team member gives the response, he or
she will turn over the next card. That team
member will respond, and so on. (Arrange the
deck of cards so that within each group of 5
consecutive cards, each number occurs once. This
way no team member will have to respond more than
twice in a row.)
- You may not skip a turn, or repeat, or pass. If
one member of the team is stuck, the team is
stuck. (You may, however, base your response
on the previous one, though it will be counted as
common. Further such responses will be counted as
- Once time begins it will not be stopped. If the
judge asks you to repeat a response, to clarify
it, or to give a more appropriate response, it
counts against your time. Speak loudly and
Advice from the Experts
- It is advisable to practice both speed and
creativity. For some problems, allow the team to
go through the deck as many times as they can.
For other,s limit them to one time through the
deck, and encourage them to take more time and
think of creative answers.
- For a "fill in the blanks of a
sentence" problem, team members should be
encouraged not to repeat the entire sentence, but
to just say the relevant words. For example, in
the problem "Name things that are superior
and what they are superior to", say, for
instance, "Life to death" instead of
"Life is superior to death".
- Speak loudly and clearly. Don't mumble!
- Try to expand on, or look at from a different
angle, the previous answer. This venerable
strategy is called 'piggy-backing'.
- Creativity is important, but it must be creative
in a way that the judges can understand and
appreciate. Interesting responses, rhymes, puns
in foreign languages, however creative, probably
won't be effective. Vulgar responses may show
exceptional creativity but are likely to get a
- Non-verbal problems fit less into any one
specific pattern, and thus are harder to train
for than verbals, which tend to be more
standardized. For non-verbals, teamwork,
delegation of tasks, and time-management skills
are extremely important.
- At the World Finals, non-verbal problems are more
- Bring a non-beeping digital wristwatch with you