ACF Pyramid is a game much like any Pyramid gameshow on television. The first live incarnation of ACF Pyramid was played on Sunday, November 11, 2007 at the Illinois Open, but the game had previously been played extensively on the quizbowl IRC channel. The first ACF Pyramid was won by Andrew Hart and Rob Carson of the University of Minnesota.
ACF Pyramid begins with an adversarial round between two teams. Six categories are available, and the highest-seeded team chooses first. Each category is something like "Elements" or "Caribbean Literature," and each contains seven items that one player must see, then describe to the other player until the other player either correctly guesses the item or passes to the next one. No words on the paper may be said by the describing player ("the giver").
After that round, there is a winner's round, wherein the giver is given six increasingly difficult categories, and may only list items within those categories. The other player must then guess the category. So if the giver said "The Blood Knot" and "MASTER HAROLD...and the boys," the other player would answer "Works of Athol Fugard." This round is only for the winning team, and the categories are given values ranging from $50 to $300, with the team earning the highest amount on this round earning the highest seed for the next round. This round is also used as a tiebreaker.
Much like on the actual $100,000 Pyramid, the final "winners' circle" round is designed to be very difficult, and is almost never successfully completed by the players. Matt Weiner credits the surreal experience of watching a gameshow which often went five or six weeks without anyone winning the game as the reason for $100,000 Pyramid being the only such program he ever liked.
Illinois Open incarnation
Teams of Jonathan Magin and Jerry Vinokurov, and Rob Carson and Andrew Hart advanced to the finals, where Rob and Andrew had the top seed from scoring $200 on the winner's round. Andrew and Rob got six out of seven possible on Japanese Literature (missing A Personal Matter), and also six out of seven on their next category. Jerry and Jonathan got perfect scores on their first two categories (1920s Art was one of them). In the final round, Andrew and Rob perfected the "Keynes" category, while Jerry and Jonathan got a five on "Canadian Trash Music."
The winner's round was used as a final. Jerry and Jonathan went first, earning $400. Andrew and Rob converted the $50 clue (isthmuses) and the $100, before winning by $100 by converting the $150 (things secondary alcohols might say) and the $200 (movements of Pictures at an Exhibition).