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Rules refers to the policies and procedures governing gameplay at tournaments. (Sets of rules are sometimes called "formats", a usage that can create confusion with the different concept of tournament format.)

The following rule sets are in common, current nationwide use:

The modifications mentioned are common; other modifications also occur.

Many statewide organizations, leagues, etc. have their own rules.

Comparison of common rule sets

Aspect NAQT rules ACF rules PACE rules
Match length two halves of 9 minutes (middle school, high school) or 10 minutes (college) each 20 tossup-bonus cycles 20 tossup-bonus cycles
Players at a time on each team 4 4 4
Regular tossup value 10 points 10 points 10 points
Powers 15 points Not available 20 points
Interrupt penalties –5 points –5 points Not issued
Time after recognition to answer a tossup 2 seconds 5 seconds
Tossup "time to live" 3 seconds 5 seconds
Bonuses 3 parts, 10 points each 3 parts, 10 points each 3 parts, 10 points each
Bounceback bonuses No No Yes
Time per bonus part 5 seconds; prompt after 4 5 seconds; prompt after 4
Timeouts one (30 seconds) per team one (30 seconds) per team
Substitutions At timeouts, at halftime, or before overtime At halftime or before overtime
Overtime Three tossups without bonuses, then sudden death if necessary Sudden death