The rules are as follows:
1. The challenge begins at 12:01am local time on the day after Thanksgiving – this year that's today, November 27th. It ends at 12:01am local time on December 24th.
2. If you hear even a tiny snatch of TLDB at any time during that period, if it's recognizable as such, the game's over until next year. Thanks for playing.
3. There are two exceptions to Rule #2.
3a. The first exception is that if someone deliberately plays TLDB just to make you lose, it doesn't count (this, I'm sorry to say, is known as the My Sister Jane Exception).4. Since the date of Thanksgiving floats, scoring is based on how many days remain until Christmas, not how many days have passed since Thanksgiving. So, e.g., December 15th from any year always beats December 14th from any year. (That's based on a 2013 ruling by the Commissioner.
3b. The second exception is that the early 1970s cover of TLDB by Bing Crosby and David Bowie doesn't end the game. I treasure it for its transcendental weirdness.
(Note that Rule #4 will mean that this year has a slightly higher degree of difficulty, since Thanksgiving falls on one of the earliest calendar dates possible.)
Odds favor those who do not work in retail, and who do not drive around in cars with satellite radio tuned to all-Christmas channels.
Last year, for the first time in at least 15 years, meaning well before the sport went pro and appointed a league statistician and its first commissioner, I successfully made it to 12:01am December 24th without hearing "The Little Drummer Boy," which means I earned the equivalent of straight 10.0's from the judges.
The precise origins of The Annual "The Little Drummer Boy" Competition are shrouded in antiquity and legend, but many reputable historians of the sport believe it traces to this moment on December 18, 1963.
You can read more about my war with "The Little Drummer Boy." and relive highlights from previous seasons-- including the crucial importance of Rule 3b -- here.
If you played last winter, I hope you'll play again this season. If you're a beginner, I hope you'll join. Feel free to check in via the comments here, or at @nothstine, to let me know how you're going.
May the odds be ever with you.