YABA4 was held on Saturday August 24, 2002. Entitled "License
to Kill Time," it was a game of spies and intrigue,
based on the James Bond theme.
The back story involved the evil villain Dr. Boris Zeus,
a member of that evil international organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E.,
who had built a secret underground bunker deep in the bedrock
of Telegraph Hill, and who was intent on blowing up San
He was aided in this endeavor by S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s sister
organization, a consortium of evil pop divas dedicated to
world domination, headed by Aretha Franklin, and know by
the name R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
We met at Sydney Walton Park for bagels, schmear and juice,
then launched the game which lasted from 11 am until the
deadline of 6 pm. The game ended at Washington Square Park,
and was followed by a buffet at the Savoy Tivoli on Grant
Each team received a game packet containing:
- a sheet containing the back story of the game (summarized
- A sheet with Game Control's contact numbers that explained
the point system (1 point deducted for a hint, 5 points
deducted for a give-away, with each clue worth 5 points
overall) and tips on when to call
- A map of San Francisco highlighting the game's boundaries
- A sealed hint/give-away card with codes (useable for
both TellMe extensions and Vigenere decryption)
- A Vigenere decryption reference grid - Vigenere-encrypted
hints and give-aways, without decryption codes
- An answer sheet on which to write the license plates
which marked the clue sites.
- A list of all the Kinko's branches in San Francisco,
along with contact information and a map showing the location
- A list of all the branches of the San Francisco Library,
including names of branches, hours, locations, telephone
numbers and a map charting them all
This year we implemented a new concept: the clue hub.
It's basically a compromise between our previous "get
all the clues at the start" format, and the point-to-point
format, with elements of each.
With the clue hub system, the starting location is the
first clue hub, where teams get the first 4 clues. They
could solve them or skip them, at will -- but clue 4 led
to the next clue hub, so teams had to solve it (or take
a giveaway, see below).
This way, teams still had some flexibility about the
order in which to solve the clues in each batch (and of
course, they could skip any clue), but they could also
tell roughly how their team was doing relative to the
other teams in the game, and they had a reason to go to
the clue hubs (to pick up the next set of clues).
In retrospect, we realize that clue hubs should have
been staffed all day rather than only during particular
hours - or at least those hours should have been made
public, so all players would know when hubs would be open.
Next year will be different, we promise!
With respect to scoring, teams received 10 points for
every clue solved, minus 5 points for every hint taken,
and minus 10 points for every giveaway. Taking a hint
but neglecting to go to the clue site and find the license
plate resulting in a team getting minus 5 points for that
Additionally, there were time penalties assessed, for
each half hour (or fraction thereof) a team finishes after
4:00 pm. 5 points off for each half hour. So, with 16
clues worth 10 points each, a perfect score would be 160,
if a team finished by 4:00 pm.
Teams finishing after 6:00 p.m. were not scored.
Finishing scores ranged from 40 to 150, with the average
score being 109 (for beginners' division teams, it was
104; regular division teams, 111; and masters' division
The hint/give-away card contained two code sheets at
the start, which had to be returned at the finish. This
sheet contained a hidden code for each clue's hint, and
another hidden code for each clue's giveaway.
If a team uncovered a code, it was charged for it (since
there was no way to cover up a code again after it had
The hints and giveaways were available in two formats:
o PHONED, in which teams dialed 1-800-TELL-ME, punched
in the code for the hint, and could hear the information.
o ENCRYPTED with the Vigenere method. Teams simply
used the code to decrypt the message.
If a team was having trouble solving a clue, they could
buy a hint for 5 points. These were be canned hints, and
Game Control tried to make them generous to make sure
teams got full value for the points they were spending.
If a team didn't want to solve a clue, and it didn't
lead to a clue hub, it was fine to skip it. If the clue
led to a hub, the team needed to either solve it or get
the answer from the code sheet, using the same process
as obtaining a hint. Giveaways cost 10 points. Teams were
reminded to write down the license plate number so that
they wouldn't end up minus 10 points for that clue, which
would have been worse than just skipping it!