Masterminds is a high school equivelant of College Bowl in Upstate New York. There are leagues in Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany; and the rules (at least in Buffalo, where I play), go like this:

There are teams of four, and each player has a buzzer. There is the person who is running the game (let's call them Scott), who reads the questions.

First, they give Tossup questions. These questions are of the kind where they are giving more and more information about something, someone, or somewhere throughout the question. Anyone can buzz in (without conferring with their team), and answer the question with what the question is talking about. If you get it right, your team gets ten points; but if you get it wrong, and it's before they finished reading the whole question, your team loses five points, and you get seriously chastized by your teammates.

However, if you get it wrong, but it's after the whole question has been read, your team doesn't lose any points. But either way, if you get it wrong, the other team gets a chance to answer it.

A good tactic for Tossups is this: whatever is replaced by "It" or "This" or "That" (or some other pronoun) in the question is usually what it's looking for. Thinking this way can get you out of a rut when the question is vague and you need to figure out what it's asking for.

Either way - whichever team gets the tossup, gets a Bonus question.

This is where the real points lie. They go from twenty to forty points (or thereabouts), and only your team (assuming your team got the tossup! otherwise it's the other team) can answer them. They often have multiple parts, each worth five or ten points.

There are different kinds of bonuses. For example, there is the "30-20-10" bonuses, where Scott gives a clue; and then your team guesses what he's talking about, and if you get it wrong, he goes to the next clue (now the question is worth 20 points), and so on. Also, often they'll ask you to spell a word for points (usually the answer to the previous part of the question).

The team gets to confer on it, and usually it's the captain who answers. Otherwise they can delegate the answer to another teammate, but after doing that, they are the only one who can answer. Usually you get about 30 seconds to come up with an answer (after that you're prompted for an answer, and then it's time and you lose the Bonus, and You're DoomedTM).

After a bonus, or if nobody gets the Tossup, you go back to another Tossup, and start again.

Each half is seven minutes long (making for fourteen minutes of playing time), and teams can make substitutions at half-time, and whichever team has the most points at the end of the game wins (obviously).

The "regular season" is made up of six matches at different high schools in your division, and you play two games at each match, making for twelve total games. We used to get a few games taped by Adelphia for the local television stations, but due to their Chapter 11 status, that's kinda out of the question for this year and into the future.

After the regular season, in each city there is a playoff season between the top three teams from each division. The past two years, my school's team has won the league chapionship for Buffalo, and hopefully the same will happen this year. We just clinched the division championship last week.

We've been pushing for a statewide tournament (say, for the top 4 teams in each league), but it would be a lot of work to put together, and it won't be happening this year. And since I won't be around next year (at my high school), it doesn't help me much.

Masterminds is a lot of fun. You learn something new every time you go, and Everything2 is a great help for it, because you can learn lots of random stuff, which helps answer questions, get more points, and win the games.

The Masterminds website is http://www.newyorkmasterminds.com/

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