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General Rules for Verbal Spontaneous

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 is final.
  • 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 duplicate answers.)
  • 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 clearly.

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 negative response.
  • 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 common.
  • Bring a non-beeping digital wristwatch with you to Spontaneous.
  Created by Lee and Matthew Semel