AGazine, August 2015

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

News & Notes Outstanding Educator Outstanding Senior Down Memory Lane Past AGazines


News and Notes

Cube Games Rules Changes

The AGLOA Board of Directors charged the LinguiSHTIK and Mathematics Rules Committees with bringing the rules of the cubes games more “in harmony” with each other so that beginning players would not have to learn different ways of doing essentially the same procedure, different names for Challenges, different scoring rules, and so on. As a result, the “end game” procedure of LinguiSHTIK has been considerably modified.

The LinguiSHTIK changes include the following, with the major objective being to simplify the unwieldy forceout procedure. The LinguiSHTIK Tournament Rules, to be posted on, will highlight all the modifications.

  • The names for the challenges will be Now and Impossible.
  • The PASS Move
    A. The PASS move is one of the four choices a player has for his move: move a cube to Letters, make a demand, make a challenge, or PASS.
    B. Calling PASS may not be done until Players 1, 2, and 3 have moved to set up that shake by calling a Pattern, Structure, or Purpose; called the TYPE demand; and stated a FUNCTION demand. Usually a player will say PASS near the end of a shake if he feels that any move he makes will make a Solution possible with one more cube.
    C. The PASS move can be done by each player only once in a shake. Players who PASS would initial “PASS” for that shake on the DEMANDS FORM.
    D. If one or two players pass but the next decides to move, that player opens himself to a Now or Impossible challenge. Players need to be aware that calling PASS too early in a shake may result in the necessity of putting a cube on the mat later in the game, which may set up another player to Challenge.
  • FORCEOUT Procedure
    A. If each player passes consecutively [that is Player 1 passes, Player 2 passes, Player 3 passes], then “Forceout” is called.
    B. Forceout means that players have three minutes to write Solutions using two more cubes from Resources. Neither of these cubes may be used as a demand. Correct Solutions would score 4 points. Players with incorrect Solutions or no Solution would score 2 points.

Changes for Equations and On-Sets

  • The names for the challenges will be Now and Impossible.
  • On a Now Challenge, if the Challenger does not present a correct Solution but the Third Party does, the Third Party scores 6. (This was done to agree with the LinguiSHTIK rule.)
  • If Equation/Solution checkers wish to prove ambiguity, they may do so separately or together during the same two-minute time limit. (See the 2015-16 Tournament Rules on for complete details.)
  • As usual, the Equations variations for Elementary and Middle Divisions shift from the odd year list of 2014-15 to the even year list for 2015-16. So these are the variations played in each division this year:
    Elementary and Middle
    Sideways, Upside-down, 0 Wild, Factorial, Multiple Operations, Average, Percent, Decimal Point
    Elementary Only
    Three-operation Solution, Remainder, Smallest Prime
    Middle Only
    Base m, Multiple of k

AGLOA Executive Board Meeting

The AGLOA Board held its annual summer meeting July 30-August 2 in Atlanta, the site of the 2016 National Tournament. Present were Larry Liss (FL), Rod Beard (MI), Brother Neal Golden (LA), Steve Wright (MI), and Craig Zeller (LA) of the AGLOA Board plus Adrian Prather (GA), Tiffany Vega (LA), and Michael Phillips (PA) of the Tournament Council (TC). The major outcomes were the following.

  • Finalized the annual financial report which will be sent to all Board and TC members, who in turn will share it with the leagues in their areas.
  • Reviewed the payments to those who work before and during the national tournament and modified the amounts paid for writing Presidents and World Events questions and coordinating the Presidents questions.
  • Dropped the annual league fee of $50 to join AGLOA and instead folded that charge into the cost for ordering local reading games questions: World Events $100, Presidents $100, Propaganda $70.
  • Developed a plan to produce all needed Thinkers and medals for Nationals in time to have the labels attached before they are shipped to Atlanta.
  • Established the pricing for the 2016 National Tournament. The plan will be sent to all districts and leagues in September.
  • The Activities Committee (consisting of the three TC members at the meeting) compiled a list of attractions within walking distance of the hotel that will be contacted to negotiate special prices for participants in the 2016 Nationals at the Marriott Marquis.
  • Toured the hotel facilities and made decisions about how to use each room for tournament events.
  • Reviewed the results of the 2015 Tournament Survey and commissioned a letter to be sent to leagues to address issues raised in the survey.
  • Reviewed the meal plan for the 2016 National Tournament that has been prepared by the hotel in conjunction with the AGLOA committee.
  • Developed fund-raising initiatives, including sponsorships for the 2016 Nationals.
  • Began the process of adding a new Board member with fund-raising experience.


Outstanding Educator: Dale Wagner

Dale Wagner coached Academic Games for 15 years for the Seneca Valley (PA) School District. He tutored all the games for students in grades 9-12. He has trained many winning teams and individuals at both the local and national levels.

Dale’s nominator, Jeremiah Finley, wrote this about the honoree.

Under Dale’s leadership, Academic Games has grown from a club on the secondary campus to a thriving club in the fifth and sixth grade middle schools. Because of his support and assistance, students are able to learn the games in the Elementary Division instead of the Middle Division. Even with AP Classes, sports, National Honor Society, the musical, and other opportunities occurring at the same time, Dale is able to support high school students’ efforts to also participate in Academic Games. In addition to organizing the team, he also is responsible for recruiting new coaches and players.

Dale is also a leader in our Western Pennsylvania Academic Games League and has served on the national Social Studies committee and written World Events and Presidents questions for AGLOA.

Dale’s best quality is his caring nature. Speaking to a group of parents whose children were attending this year’s Nationals, he described how exhausting this trip was for the teachers. His main rationale for his fatigue is that he thinks of the students as his own children, and he worries about them for the duration of the entire trip. He is a very supportive coach for his players.

Dale retired from teaching in January, and he has continued to coach Academic Games for the remainder of the 2014-1015 season. Orlando was his final national tournament. The Seneca Valley family – and all of AGLOA – will miss him immensely.


Dale Wagner with two of his WPAGL students


Outstanding Senior: Joseph Arrigo

Joseph Arrigo played Academic Games from 4th grade on at St. Philip Neri School and Brother Martin High School in New Orleans.

He excelled in Equations, On-Sets, Propaganda, and Presidents enough to attend Nationals eight straight years. Locally, he was the individual sweepstakes winner of his division four times and placed in the Top 3 three other times. Joseph was particularly adept at Presidents, which he won four times, placing in the Top 3 three more times.

He accomplished all this despite being involved in numerous organizations: Chorus (President), Drama Club (President), Mu Alpha Theta (State Treasurer), National Honor Society, National Honor Society for Science, Student Ambassadors, Eucharistic Ministers, and Quiz Bowl.

Here’s what his coach, Craig Zeller, wrote on his nomination form.

Joseph’s two years in Senior Division are arguably his best, as an individual and with his team that has never been the same five or four players. Yes, it seems logical that as a nine-year veteran of Academic Games, he could amass a fairly substantial number of certificates, trophies, medals, and Thinkers. But it’s not trophies that make this senior player “outstanding.” It’s his character, his excellence, and his integrity.

He has definitely played a “character” in numerous drama productions at our school, but he also shows his character (Shift of Meaning) when he gives up time day after day to make all the extracurricular activities he is a part of better. Because he knew he could not act in our school’s spring performances, because it typically ran the same weekend as Nationals, he volunteered to assistant direct the plays. This year, he directed their adaptation of The Front Page. I know he would like to be a part of the final performances his senior year that
took place during Nationals, but his love for Academic Games ran deep.

On top of his various commitments, he still managed to take four Advanced Placement classes this year (seven
total), and he’s on track to graduate with Honors as his class’s valedictorian in a few weeks.

In Academic Games, he has always cheered on his peers to win more than for himself. He’s far more accepting of defeat than I ever will be. He knows I hate the phrase, “I’m OK with it.” But that’s because he knows that at every match he has played and with every question he has answered, he has left everything he has on the table. Every time he’s gone into a playoff, including at the 2016 Nationals, he leaves with a great big smile and congratulates the other players win or lose.

I hope that he might be able to assist, as he did last summer, at our New Orleans Academic Games Summer Camp. Even if he cannot, I challenge him, just as I do everyone else […], to continue to find a way to “pay it forward.” #noexcuses

Some people may not realize all that Academic Games has done for them until later in life, but I know that this mature individual has recognized that already. I think his current teammates at Brother Martin High School and from other New Orleans schools can say that nobody has a bigger heart, better personality or brighter future than Joseph Arrigo.

Craig Zeller (L) with Joseph Arrigo

Craig Zeller (L) with Joseph Arrigo


Down Memory Lane

In the mid-1980s, the Junior/Senior On-Sets variation lists included the variations below that are no longer played today or have been modified (such as Double color).

First of all, no variations were automatically in effect. The two interchangeables and Multiple operations had to be selected each shake.

Junior and Senior

  • (No Forbidden) All players are Forbidden to play any non-digit-cube to Forbidden.
  • (Two operations) The Set-Name of the Solution must contain at least two operation symbols.
  • (Double color) In the Universe dealt, each card containing the ___ color will count double. The player selecting this variation will specify when announcing the variation choice which one of the four colors is to count double. If two or more colors are chosen by different players for the same shake, each card in the union of the sets will count double.

Senior only

  • (Permute sections) The three sections of the playing mat (Required, Permitted, and Forbidden) may be permuted. When presenting a Solution, a player must specify in writing which of the three sections is Required, which is Permitted, and which is Forbidden for that Solution. (If no permutation is written, then it is assumed that the sections stay as is.) = and C cubes may be played to Forbidden. A Solution-writer ignores any unused digit cubes that are in Forbidden regardless of how the sections are permuted for a Solution.
  • (Pick two) The player choosing this variation may pick any two variations to both be in effect for the shake.

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