Five categories are shown to the players, each with three questions. One player selects a category, and the host begins reading questions. The first question in each category is worth a "base value" which starts at $20 and goes up $10 with each new category, the second question is worth double the base value, the third question is four times the base. Players must wait until the question is completed before buzzing in, and an incorrect answer deducts the base value from that player's score. The last correct answer gets to select the next category. Play continues until 5 minutes have elapsed or all the questions are used, whichever happens first.
The second round is played with five new categories, and a base value that starts at $50. When a player buzzes in with the right answer, he/she can choose to either keep the money and go to a new category, or challenge one of his/her challengers to answer the next question for twice as much. The winner of that challenge then has the same decision of either taking the money or challenging the third player for double. If a deadball occurs in the first question of the category, the next question is read as a toss-up for the same amount. Again, the round continues for 5 minutes or until all the categories are played.
During the commercial break before the third round, each player is shown three categories and chooses one (with the third-place player getting to choose first, then the second-place player picking from what's left and the leader taking the remaining category). Each player also secretly bids on whether to answer 1 or 2 questions from their category. A correct answer in the third round doubles that contestant's score, while a wrong answer reduces the score by one half. The player with the most money at the end of the round gets to keep it and advances to the bonus round. If there's a tie, one final sudden-death question is played.
The contestant is now asked a series of general knowledge questions. The first correct answer wins $625, and every right answer thereafter doubles that amount. Six right answers in the round wins the maximum possible total of $20,000. If the player gives a wrong answer, though, a clock behind them which starts at 30 seconds begins to count down. If the clock hits 0, the player loses all of his/her bonus round earnings. There are two ways to stop the clock: either give a right answer, or hit a button in front of the player. Doing the latter ends the round and preserves the money won in the bonus round. Regardless of the outcome, the contestant retires.
The doubling value of each question creates a very nice gimmick. The third round's rules make for the possiblity of a nice payoff if someone bids 2 questions and gets them both right, essentially quadrupling their original total. And I absolutely adore the bonus round.
Q&A games of this kind of nature have always struck me as kind of mundane, and I fear that others may get that feeling watching this.
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