Difficulty cliff

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A difficulty cliff results when a tossup instantly transitions from "difficult" to "easy" without any intervening middle clues. A difficulty cliff is particularly frustrating to players who use the McKenzie Method, as the first clue that a player knows is also extremely likely to be the first clue that most players know, resulting in a buzzer race.

Difficulty cliffs are occasionally seen in even the most well-crafted ACF sets, the shorter nature of NAQT questions makes them more common in that format, and they are ubiquitous in CBI and speed tossup formats.

While difficulty cliffs are almost always present in bad quizbowl, these mistakes are typically viewed as less egregious than transparency or the use of bad clues.