After a 14-year sabbatical on NBC, the classic game show of rebuses and prizes returned as Classic Concentration.
In many ways, Classic Concentration was the classic game show: trying to match prizes and guess the rebus before your opponent did to win your stash. Several new twists, however, were added to make this perennial favorite enjoyable as ever.
This time, contestants faced a 25-space board (a 5-by-5 grid), shown on Sony electronic monitors; the entire gameboard was computer generated. Also, several bonuses were added throughout the run (explained later).
But first, the game ...
Two contestants, including a returning champion, competed to solve a rebus - a person, place, thing, phrase, etc., spelled out using phonetic sounds and pictures - hidden below the board of 25 numbers (1-25). One at a time, each contestant called out two numbers.
Behind each square was one of the following:
* A prize - Self-explanatory. At least one of the prizes was announced before the start of each new game (always worth $1,000 or more). Also hidden among the prizes was a trip, a piece of jewelry, and other prizes worth between $20 and several thousand dollars.
* WILD - Also self-explanatory, these provided an automatic match. After the second pick, Trebek then announced the other half of the natural match, allowing three (or sometimes more) pieces of the rebus to be revealed.
A $500 bonus was given for uncovering two WILD cards; on the rare occassion three WILD cards were uncovered, the bonus was $1,000 (as well as five squares revealed at once).
Take - Introduced several weeks into the run, revealing one of these cards allowed the player to take one of his/her opponent's gifts at that moment. Or (unlike the original NBC and syndicated runs), he/she could save it for later and wait for a better prize.
When a second pair of Take cards were added in February 1988 (several months after the first pair were introduced), the cards were color-coded; one set was red and the other green. A color match was required to earn a Take card. Also, a correct match was required to have the option to use the Take.
The first player to solve the rebus won whatever he/she had listed in his/her prize column; the loser received nothing.
During the run, the rules for winning or losing changed, as thus:
* May-Fall 1987: Each loss was one and done.
* Fall 1987-July 1988: A contestant could stay until he/she lost twice.
* July 1988-June 1990: Two-out-of-three match, with the winner becoming champion.
* July 1990-September 1991: A contestant could stay until he/she lost twice.
The contestant was shown eight different cars (a wide variety of makes and models) and then presented a board of 15 squares. The idea was to match the names of seven cars, remembering that the eighth car had no match.
Each new champion was given a base time of 35 seconds to match the seven car names; the seventh match won the player that car. If time ran out, the next bonus game added five seconds more to the clock (40 seconds) until the car is won.
In addition to the rules concerning championship reigns, there were several other changes to Classic Concentration during its four years of original episodes.
Early in the run, a special FIVE BONUS CAR SECONDS space was added. If the player matched the two spaces AND won the game, five extra seconds was added to the time.
In November 1989, a CASHPOT space was added, which provided a cash bonus if the player matched the space and won the game. This jackpot started at $500 and increased by $100 for each show it went unclaimed.
Tournament of Champions
Like the original NBC series, Classic Concentration conducted an annual Tournament of Champions. The contestants with the highest cash winnings and quickest bonus round wins were invited back to play for either a trip around the world (1988) or an upscale car (1989-1991).
All bonus rounds were played with a 35-second time limit. The first player to clear the bonus round was credited with his/her car, and all subsequent players had to beat that time. At the end of the tournament, the contestant having the quickest bonus round time won his/her car (or the trip).