very tournament site should have a spontaneous holding room where teams report 10 minutes before their scheduled competition time. (If there is no holding room, teams should report to the competition site 10 minutes before the scheduled time and wait quietly for further instruction.) Only one coach may accompany the team into the holding room.

   One team member should register the team, giving its long-term problem and division, and the team membership name and number. The team will wait in the holding room until it is called to compete. A judge will accompany the team members to the spontaneous problem room. The coach will remain in a designated area and wait for the team to return. Where possible, this should be a different area so the holding room does not get congested.

   All team members are allowed to enter the spontaneous room. A judge will identify the type of problem: verbal, hands-on, or verbal/hands-on. The team members will then have one minute to decide among themselves which five will compete. The non-participating members may remain and watch or they may choose to leave the room. If they choose to remain they must not talk, signal, or intervene in any way. If a non-participating team member interferes in any way, that team member will be asked to leave the room, but the team's time will continue. Allowing the non-participating team members to watch the team compete allows all team members to feel valued and allows them to know the problem their teammates have solved without having to discuss it outside of the competition site.

   If a team has five or fewer members at a competition, all of the members must enter the spontaneous room and all must participate in solving the problem.

   Team members should listen carefully to the judge's directions, as every spontaneous problem is different and specific rules for each individual problem may apply.

   A judge places a copy of the problem in full view of the participating team members and reads the problem aloud. The team may refer to its copy of the problem as necessary. Once the judge finishes reading the problem, he or she will say, “Begin,” and time starts. The team members may ask the judges questions, but time will continue. In some instances, judges may tell the team that they cannot answer their specific question, and may refer the team to the problem. Judges will try to clarify the problem if necessary to ensure that the team members understand what the problem requires; however, judges will not give information that aids in solving the problem. In verbal and/or verbal/hands-on problems the judges will use the following language:
  • If a team member speaks too fast or mumbles and the judges cannot understand, they will say, “UNCLEAR. Please say it again.”
  • If a response does not make sense to the judges or is not acceptable, they will say, “INAPPROPRIATE. Please clarify or give another response.”
  • If a response is a repeat of what another team member said, the judges will say, “DUPLICATE. Please give another response.”
Once the team has competed it will be directed to leave the room quietly and meet the coach at the designated area. Team members should be reminded that spontaneous problems must be kept secret until after the competition, because all teams in the same long-term problem and division must solve the same spontaneous problem. Spontaneous problems are not subject to the grievance process; however, if a team has a concern, one team member should ask to speak to the Spontaneous Problem Captain, who will then speak with the judges and the entire team, if necessary.
-- Joy Kurtz, International
International Problem Captain
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