A buzzer fake is a tactic where one player pretends that he is about to buzz, in the hopes of luring a player on the other team into buzzing early in order to "beat" the faker out, thus inducing a neg.
In theory, a buzzer fake will be far easier for a player with a natural full-body buzz, as he can initiate telltale pre-buzzing movements without actually buzzing. It is also easier with a Judge paddle than with a thumb-plunger. A fake buzz may potentially work in two situations:
- where a player who actually has a guess is simply waiting for a more concrete clue and then is legitimately lured into a buzz
- where a player has no idea what the answer might be, but wishes to appear to be buzzing on a question as if he does, thus enhancing his perceived skill rating (which will of course plummet if the fake buzz succeeds). This is known as reflex buzzing.
There are two primary risks inherent when one attempts a buzzer fake:
- One's teammates could also potentially be induced to reflex buzz, resulting in a neg (see below)
- If one is not careful, a buzzer fake can turn into a very real terrible buzz, also resulting in a neg.
Buzzer fakes seldom succeed, though Anthony de Jesus attempted buzzer fakes at least once per tournament, and Tim McElroy claims to have used one successfully against Andrew Yaphe at a University of Chicago practice in 2004. Former Maryland and Illinois player Vishnu Jejjala tried this maneuver on three separate occasions against University of Kentucky teams, including one at 1999 ACF Nationals which led to a temporary pause in play to allow the moderator, the legendary Al Whited, to ascertain whether Jejjala was all right, and to give him a withering look of contempt when he found out the purpose for the convulsion. In the final attempt, at a Michigan MLK, the buzzer fake not only failed to work but even cost Jejjala’s team points, when his buzzer spasm baited teammate John Nam to buzz in and take a neg. Kentucky’s website makes reference to this as the “chump jump”.
Contemporary practitioners of the buzzer fake include Rob Carson and Mike Sorice. A fake-turned-accidental-buzz by Carson resulted in an embarrassing neg at ACF Fall 2007; many years later, Rob redeemed himself by successfully buzzer-faking Ted Gioia at WELD. Sorice claims to have made several successful buzzer fakes, including at least one against Trygve Meade. At the Minnesota site of the 2008 MUT, Meade was successfully buzzer faked by both Igor Luzhansky's cell phone and by Jeet Raut.
Isaac Hirsch claims to have successfully buzzer faked Zach Foster at the Region Four 2011 SCT, after witnessing the latter watching opposing players during a previous matches. Foster denies this, claiming to have buzzed in with (pseudo)legitimate knowledge.
Max Schindler fell victim to an unintentional buzzer fake in the finals of the 2013 NSC when Allan Sadun's attempts to buzz with an unplugged buzzer led to his incorrect reflex buzz. Sadun subsequently power-vulched.