they actually thinking of a different person? We get around this, and help out our poor QMs, by having a generic rule called the "Smith Rule." The Smith Rule states that, unless the name is something common like Smith or Jones, only the last name need be given. In a lot of cases, the QM will decide whether the Smith Rule applies or not.

However, where the Smith Rule does apply, any player giving more than just the last name does so at their own risk. In the previous example, under the Smith Rule, the player would be ruled to have given an incorrect answer, while "Kennedy," or "John Fitzgerald Kennedy" would both be acceptable responses. Similarly, if the question were "Who was the host of the game show You Bet Your Life?", the answer "Marx" would be greeted by a request for more information. With too many alternative Marxes to choose from (and don't forget Karl, who Monty Python fans will know was a game show regular, as well as Harpo and the rest), the player must come up with Groucho Marx to get the point(s).

Alternate Answers

Quizmasters often run into situations where they have to rule on "alternate answers." This can happen for several reasons; most commonly, however, it happens because of imprecise or inaccurate question setting: the question as asked has more than one answer, or the answer given is just plain wrong! Let's face it -- anyone can make an error in setting the questions.

Official Protests

The Quizmaster's word at the game itself is law -- for that night. And at home, that will be the end of the matter (unless you want to check references on the Internet at the break!). However, in our league's play, there is a protest mechanism. When the QM cannot deal with a suspected error by themselves (a matter of personal general knowledge as to whether or not to allow the player's alternative answer), a protest is written on the back of the scoresheet, is then researched and responded to by the person who set the question(s). The personal or team score is adjusted if necessary if the protest is upheld. (This is actually a major difference between our league and some of the others; the others do not change scores as a result of protests.)


Like a soccer referee, the QM is the sole timekeeper. Start timing the sixty seconds as soon as you have finished reading the question; if they ask you to read it again, the clock keeps going. Give time checks -- announce "thirty seconds," "fifteen seconds," and "five seconds." Similarly on steals, the other team should have been using their time well, and five seconds should be plenty. You may, however, be asked to recap the first team's incorrect answers, which is fair.

A Good Game Is a Good Time

Always remember that the purpose of the game is for everyone to have a good time. Enforce the rules as Quizmaster, but never in such a draconian way that people become aggrieved or upset. Err on the side of leniency in all matters.

Being a Good QM (part 2)

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