And now...the rules!
The Object of the Game
Just like tic-tac-toe, the contestants (Mr. X and Miss Circle) win by getting three stars in a row either across, down or diagonally. To do this, the contestant chooses a star, who is asked a question, and based on the answer given by the star, the contestant must determine whether the star is right, or they're just making up hooey...that's how they get the squares.
For the first 5 seasons, games started at $1,000 for the first 2 rounds, doubled to $2,000 for round 3 and $4,000 for round 4 and every round played thereafter (in early Season 1, games started at $500 for rounds 1 and 2, and then would double each round up to round 4). In Season 6, the front game was played in a best 2 of 3 match play format, making it possible for two or three bonus rounds to be played in one episode. Each game won was worth $1,000
In the event that time ran out during a round, each square captured by the contestants was worth $500 each and added to their scores ($250 early in Season 1). In Season 6, however, the current game being played would stop after time ran out and would resume first thing the next day
The Secret Square
Played in the second round. In Season 1, one prize was offered and could only be won if the Secret Square was chosen and the answer to the question was correct. From Season 2 to Season 5, the round went by a progressive jackpot system. One prize would be offered the first day and if the contestant got the question wrong or the Secret Square wasn't chosen, a new prize would be added on the next day and so on until the entire cumulative stash was won, at which point the cycle would start again.
In Season 6, each game under the match play format had a different prize for the Secret Square (Note: Secret Square prizes don't count towards cumulative cash totals at the end of gameplay, but do count to the overall total at the end of the show)
The Bonus Round
The bonus round has changed many times over the years. During the first few weeks of Season 1, players simply won the prize held by the star that they chose. Later in Season 1 and until the first part of Season 4, to win the star's held prize, they had to agree or disagree correctly to the question that star was asked.
Mid-Season 4, contestants played a new bonus game by teaming up with one star who held a cash value in his/her envelope. They then answered a series of rapid-fire questions in a time limit of 60 seconds, each correct answer worth the amount of money the star held. After the 60 seconds was up, the player made a decision to either keep the money they had, or risk it on one final question. A correct answer doubled the player's winnings, while an incorrect one resulted in the winnings being lost.
In Season 5, a 5-level bonus round was introduced, each level featuring a high-end prize. To learn more about this version, go here
The Returning Champion Factor
From Season 2 onward, once a contestant became champion, they stayed champion. A contestant could remain on the show for a maximum of 5 games or until their opponent beat them. Winning 5 games meant that the contestant would be a "retired champion" and would come back later in the spring for the Tournament of Champions
If you would like to see some of the basic moves, click here