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Rules Differences Between “Third Age” and “Second Age” Bible Quizzing

While “Second Age”1 (roughly 1960 to the present) Quiz rule sets have many differences, most of them have a common ancestor in Youth for Christ Quizzing and share similar features. “Third Age” (launched with IOC in 2023 and embodied in the CBQ program and rule book) introduces some new specific ideas to Quizzing that are at least uncommon in Second Age, if not altogether brand new to Third Age. This article will detail some of those rules.

Note that the biggest rule changes concern the query type system and the associated scoring system, which are remarkably different from Second Age rule sets. Since these are both such large topics, they belong in their own articles.2 Instead, we will look at 5 other areas of the rules, smaller yet significant, which veteran quizzers will want to pay attention to before the meet.

1. Adjustable “ceilings”

Typically, a quizzer can “quiz out” in Second Age rule sets by answering a certain number of correct questions in one quiz. In Third Age, this feature still exists, and it is called the quizzer’s “ceiling.” But the number of correct queries which constitutes the “ceiling” changes if the quizzer chooses to answer “open-book“ subtype queries instead of defaulting “synonymous” or declaring “verbatim.”

If the quizzer only answers open-book, they hit their ceiling at just 2 correct replies. They are capped at 3 correct replies if either of the first two (but not both) are open-book. If none of the first three queries are open-book, the quizzer can reply to a fourth and final query. The quizzer is still eligible to answer this fourth query open-book, if they prefer, but they will forfeit the 3-point bonus given for a “perfect ceiling” – awarded for correctly replying to four queries in a quiz with no incorrect replies and no open-book replies.

Another significant change is that Third Age does not have an equivalent to what many Second Age programs call “error outs”. A quizzer can, theoretically, get as many incorrect replies in one quiz as there are numerical queries in the quiz.

2. Widely expanded context rules

Second Age rule sets typically have a concept of “context” which prohibits the quizzer from quoting material that isn’t close to the material being asked by the question. Third Age also has context, but the rules are quite different.

What defines a quizzer as out-of-context is “any 2-word or longer globally unique phrase from the material where at least 1 word of the phrase is outside the context of the query”. This could be a tough rule to keep in mind while replying, but the details of it are likely not necessary for quizzers to consider except during the appeal process. Just think about it as quoting from the chapter or verse(s) as accurately as you can without mixing it up with another context. Officials should definitely pay attention to the specifics, though!

3. The use of a thesaurus to objectively define rulings

In Second Age rule sets, quizmasters often must make a judgment call when a quizzer is not word-perfect but has also not substantially changed the meaning of the text.

Third Age seeks an objective definition of “not substantially changed,” by implementing a thesaurus. When a quizzer opts to reply to a query with the “synonymous” subtype, their reply will be judged based on whether their words are synonymous to the meaning of the text. The thesaurus decides this.

From the perspective of the quizzer, of course, they should simply seek to quote as accurately as they can. Like the rule about when the quizzer is considered out of context, the specifics of the thesaurus are more important for officials to understand than quizzers, but to make a proper appeal you may want to know!

4. Somewhat predictable type distributions

In Second Age rule sets, quizzes tend to use “distributions” of question types, which are scattered randomly or somewhat randomly throughout the quiz.

Third Age rules randomize both the base query subtypes and the translation for each question, but once the order is set, that order will continue throughout the entire quiz. This means teams can expect exactly what type of question will come up and when, and strategize accordingly.

The full explanation from the rule book is under the Query Base Subtype and Translation Distribution section.

5. Appeals process

Second Age rule sets typically have means by which quizzers and/or coaches can petition the quizmaster to re-evaluate a ruling. Third Age also has this – they are called “appeals.” Here are just some rules about appeals which are different from many Second Age rule sets:

  1. To learn more about the historical background behind these terms, read the introductory paragraphs to “Building Unity through Translational Diversity”. ↩

  2. For more information on the type system, see the Query Types section CBQ Rule Book or read the Quizzer Guide to CBQ. To learn more about scoring, see An In-Depth Look at Scoring. ↩