“No way! The theme round is never the first round.” You’re deciding on your answer for the third question of the first round, and your teammate says, “Felix, Garfield, the third answer has to be a fictional cat”. Well it turns out; IBM is definitely not a fictional cat.
As a host, I see it all the time. Teams will write down an answer five seconds after the question is read, and then hold onto their answers until “Last Call” is announced. The theme round can arise out of nowhere, and in any round, so this is not a bad strategy. There are some things to look for in identifying a theme, though.
The first thing that you need to remember is that the theme round could be anything. Themes in past shows have ranged from Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, to the country of Iceland. If your team is going to identify the theme round, you have to be alert at all times.
Another thing to remember, and this could be viewed as some “insider info”, is that the theme round is almost never the sixth round. If you have arrived at the final question of the fifth round, and the theme round has not yet happened, there is a good chance that it is staring you right in the face. Don’t take this as a fail proof plan though; there is still a minute chance that the theme will appear just before the final question of the night.
There are also some folks out there who believe that there is a formula to the placement of the theme hints in the round. Some say that two of the answers are the hints, and the third is somewhere in one of the questions. Some have other explanations. The truth is, they can be anywhere.
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, there are times that two questions of a round seem to follow a theme, but the third question and answer just don’t seem to fit. The beauty of the theme round is that a guess can be made once in each round. Each clue of the theme doesn’t have to be identified either, so guessing an incorrect theme won’t always hurt you.
There really is no tried and true method of identifying the theme round in a show. The best strategy is to keep the thought of a theme round in the back of your head. Some teams will designate one player to take notes on each question and answer, while others will search for it collectively. Whatever your strategy is, success means 2 extra points for your team, which could play a part in taking home the top spot. Good luck out there, teams, and don’t forget to pay attention to each word in all questions and answers.