Tournament Direction is something that you can learn by doing, but it can be a painful experience as you do it for your first time. What we, as veterans of tournament direction, have done, is taken the process and broken it down step by step to help you cover your bases as you set forth on your tournaments direction and attempt to put forth the best product possible. We have also done this to ensure that teams that attend your tournament have no complaints, or at least minimal ones. In the end, the community works to help itself and hopefully, this document will serve to further that cause.
Deciding to run a tournament
Before you get in too deep, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you have the desire, personnel, and time to run a tournament. The road to tournament hell is paved with good intentions and it is in the best interests of all players and teams to err on the side of caution, either by postponing a tournament or by scaling down the size of the proposed tournament. No tournament begins as a behemoth, it takes time and reputation to build the size of your field, and as you run more tournaments, you will be able to do more.
There are three cardinal sins for every first-time TD:
(1) Biting off more than you can chew.
(2) Refusing to ask for help when you need it.
(3) Not accepting help when it is offered.
Most of the major tournament “disasters”, IMO, stem from one or more of those three things.
Circuit teams can have very long memories, which is understandable. It is the responsibility of the tournament director that your club doesn’t bite off more than it can chew. Everything, from rooms to staff to stats to questions, falls on the shoulders of the TD. So, if you have to turn teams away, turn teams away. The future leaders of your team will thank you for it, so will the teams attending your event.
First, before you make your announcement, you need to pick your date. A couple of things to consider when doing so are:
The dates of other tournaments in your region, especially those which you wish to attend.
The traditional dates of events in your region.
Holidays and vacations.
In considering holidays, don’t forget to note when major religious holidays are, since some schools have had problems considering those and paid the price. In addition, spring breaks and finals of likely attendees should be considered for tournaments in March and Dec/April/May, respectively. Also, consider quarters vs. semesters, as some schools may not be in session when you wish to host a tournament.
The dates of major events on your campus.
(This should include sporting events. If you are a major football school, it is very inadvisable to hold your tournament on a football weekend.)
The dates of major events in your area. (Hotel availability is the crux of this issue)
Especially if your tournament is a new tournament, intent to host a tournament should be announced as far in advance as possible, hopefully at least six months. This allows teams to secure funding from student governments, which is usually handled the previous term, and allows most schools to consider when they plan on hosting their own tournaments, including those at the high school level. You should check with your student organizations office to see how/when funding can be procured. Some schools allow retroactive reimbursement, while others don’t.
Once you have done that, you should use your discretion, pick the best available date, and make this information known to the community. You do this by issuing a tournament announcement. Tournament announcements reach their widest audience through the following methods:
Face-to-Face Communications: When your team attends a tournament, be sure to invite all the participants to come to your event. Most events even allow an open floor for announcing events before playoff seedings are announced.
Yahoo! quizbowl club: http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/quizbowl The newest method for announcing, this Yahoo! club (Yahoo! member name and registration required) will reach over 700 people. Post your announcement there once you have registered. The TD/TO would probably be wise to be attuned to the Y! club message board since it has become a major resource for some these days. Don’t forget to add it to the club’s calendar as well.
The Tournament List: Run by Iowa State, a link to it is found at Maize Pages.
Direct email: If you use the directory page at Maize Pages (http://www.collegequizbowl.org/Maize/directory.html) you could directly mail teams in your region to ensure that they have gotten your email.
Your preliminary announcement
This should come out 12 weeks before the tournament if you have a question submission tournament, eight weeks if the tournament
host or an outside vendor will provide the questions. When announcing a tournament though, account for things like holidays and break periods that may make it wise to send out the announcement sooner. If your tournament is late in the year, you may want to stake a claim to your date early so that people are aware of your intentions, a minimal announcement can achieve this. You may want to send out an announcement in the fall semester indicating your intention to host a tournament in the spring semester.
Minimally, this preliminary announcement should include the following:
The name by which your tournament will be known.
The date(s) upon which your tournament will be held. It is important to make sure that you make it clear if the tournament will be a one day or two day affair so that teams attending can make travel arrangements accordingly.
The body that will be hosting the tournament. Usually, this would be your team.
Tournament Director’s name and email address
The person within your program that will be the contact person to all who have questions about the tournament. As a TD, you will need to become an email junkie, and promptly respond to all queries.
Tournament Location (city, building)
The place at which your tournament will be held. Make sure that this includes a building name if at all possible.
Tournament requirements (Packet, fees, etc.)
What is necessary for a team to play in your tournament. This includes eligibility rules, the need to submit a packet, and the fees for play. More on this in a moment.
Tournament format/style/difficulty expectations
What kind of tournament will you be hosting, what style of questions will be used, will it be timed or untimed.
Please not that format and difficulty expectations are NOT one in the same. ACF, NAQT, CBI, TRASH are formats; m-ACF, NAQT-style, CBI rules and Trash are styles. Difficulty expectations would be a description in which the customer is clearly told what difficulty of question they should aim to write or expect to hear (i.e.: between NAQT IMs and Sectionals, or between ACF Sectionals and Nationals, etc.)
Be honest about this, one of the quickest ways to anger attending teams is to lead them to believe they will be attending will be of one level and then totally switching things up on them in the end.
If your tournament is a packet submission, the guidelines for a team to use when writing a packet. This may be developed by yourself or can crib off preexisting ones, such as:
The Michigan Memorandum:
Penn Bowl X:
Ann B. Davis Guidelines
The tournament distribution should include instructions on proper formatting of questions. Although half the teams tend to ignore that to some extent, the half that do will make your life easier. Also, make sure to list preferred file formats in order of preference, and the email to which it must be submitted, which may be different from the TD/TO/EIC.
Tournament Pricing Structure
What teams playing in your tournament can expect to pay and what discounts they can receive for reaching various incentive goals. A later announcement should also include a “Checks made payable to” name and an address to which teams that must muddle through bureaucratic red tape.
In setting prices for your tournament, remember that for a collegiate tournament almost all of the attendees to the tournament will be holding events on their own at some other point in the year. This means that there is a given market price established. Do NOT go above that market price, and try to stay below it as much as you think you will need. This is to say, don’t go profiteering off other teams for the sake of getting away with it.
Remember that teams will pay a premium not to have to submit a packet. This means you can defer some of the cost of packets you purchase for competition on to the competitors.
Remember that when teams submit packets late, the extra fee is almost never made up by the quality of their packet. For that reason, heavy late fees are a good idea, but remember to balance them out with equally generous premiums for early packets, so that teams are encouraged to produce quality packets early.
Remember to give discounts for equipment (buzzers, clocks, and especially, moderators!).
A URL where teams can find information about your tournament.
Tournament Registration Info
Information on how a team would go about registering for your tournament, where they would send completed packets, and whom they can reach about questions about writing.
Follow up announcements should occur at 8 weeks, four weeks, two weeks, and one week. All of the information should be included, questions that have arisen can be answered, further detail provided, and a list of teams participating can be used to supplement this information.
Some tournaments may designate a tournament director and a tournament organizer. The TO would be in charge of many things listed in TD Guide, including publicity and registration. The TD would be more concerned with game day concerns, such as questions, bracketing, etc.
Once you have taken care of the external portion of your hosting duties, you need to work on securing your internal structuring. We call this logistics, and among the things with which it deals with are:
Rooms should be one of the first things of which you take care. You will have to talk to someone important in your university, as this will vary wildly between schools, but you will need to secure a minimum of rooms (a large auditorium is also helpful if possible as a meeting area). Always remember to secure an extra room as a tournament central, by which stats can be kept, questions stored, and staff can use as a fallback position. (However, note that some stats keepers enjoy being in on the action, and might like to sit in room where games are being held.) Make sure to obtain WRITTEN permission and make sure that the rooms will be open and unlocked.
There is no more frustrating delay to a tournament than waiting for rooms to be unlocked. Be nice to security personnel and they will be nice to you. Also, make sure you have an emergency contact number if the rooms aren’t unlocked, or double-booked, etc.
In addition to being the first thing to take care of, rooms should probably be acquired, or at least looked into, before the tournament is officially announced. Similarly, once you have acquired permission to use the room, make sure that facilities management is aware of it, through the appropriate channels, as to make sure the rooms are open, unlocked and heated. If you need use of AV equipment, etc., to make sure that equipment is available.
Scheduling can be tricky, but easily resolved if you plan. You need to determine a number of things before you can make a schedule, as if affects a number of things which occur in your tournament.
How many teams are attending?
How many games do you want each team to have?
Round robin, split round robin, divisional play?
What kind of playoff system do you want to employ: Single-elim, best 2 out of 3, none? Or something else entirely (e.g., small pools of round robin play, etc.)?
How many teams do you want to make the playoffs?
You also must make an important distinction between full round robin and split round-robin should occur. Two factors would be involved: number of in-house packets and time the tournament will take. Timed tournaments can probably get away with a 15-team round-robin while untimed can’t get away with more than 13, unless the tournament will take two days.
Once you figure this out, there are a number of sites that you can use to figure out your schedule.
Among these sites are:
It is wise to have contingency schedules for one more and one fewer teams that may be attending. Tournaments that are over-prepared have fewer problems than tournaments that are under-prepared.
Though questions about the schedule should be answered early, you should wait until about the Wednesday before your tournament to finalize your schedule, as it makes you less likely to pull your hair out.
Print your schedule out. Make at least two copies per team and one per game room.
If a tournament must be held in more than one building, and if this tournament has a Division 2 bracket, or a novice bracket, stick the freshmen in whatever building everyone is starting in. It’s not fair to ask a bunch of novices at their first tournament to also worry about finding another building on a strange campus. . The most important thing is to minimize movement across buildings if at all possible.
When making schedules, if you use numbers to designate teams in order to save space, make sure to list the teams that those numbers correspond to on the schedule sheet. People shouldn’t have to frantically write down every team and its number based on some scrawlings on a blackboard. Again, not a big deal, but for what people pay, they shouldn’t have to do that.
Goofy team names are fun; so if a team submits them to you, use them on the schedule, results, etc. (Just make sure that you know which team is which, especially with multiple teams from the same school.)
In addition, the official abbreviation of Northwestern University is NU, not NWU. So, don’t abbreviate the team name that way on any schedules or tournament results.
No tournament can function well if it is short on working buzzers. Many teams own buzzer systems and are willing to lug them with them from their school if you offer a discount for them to do so. Make sure you use the operative word “working” as it prevents you from thinking you have enough buzzers when half of them are broken in some manner.
On the equipment and staff front, we always make it clear to teams attending that if they don’t bring buzzers, clocks, whatever we need, then there won’t be any. Most clubs have about one or two buzzer sets and about a two clocks. There’s no way you, or any team I think, can have enough equipment on their own to hold an event.
Make sure that teams know if they don’t bring their buzzer sets, then they’ll be playing “slap bowl.” While it is the TD’s job to staff each room and make sure it has a buzzer system, but they can only do so much. Untimed tournaments don’t need two people per room. Two helps, but an untimed event can make do with one.
If you are running a timed tournament, these are as vitally important as questions or buzzers. Many teams have their own clocks and are willing to bring them, but if you offer a clock discount in your pricing structure, teams will be more willing to bring them.
Not required, but sort of expected. You should at least award top three places and top four scorers. Nothing too fancy needed, but not too hard to come by, either with an on-campus dealer or through an Internet company. Dinn Brothers Trophy Co. has been good, with good service. They are on the web at www.dinntrophy.com. They are out of Springfield, MA, but ship anywhere.
If you are getting trophies, you’ll need a minimum of one week, allow for two.
Other common awards include books and CDs. If you should choose to award something for most negs, the traditional prize is a shot glass from your school, filled or unfilled as you so choose.
Note that quiz bowl players are kind of strange, so “alternate” trophies such as books or chocolate or food are generally acceptable prizes.
Plaques are also really good, though you may want to wait to engrave and then ship.
Also on trophies–consider the winning team that is tasked with flying home with a gigantic trophy in carry-on baggage. The lesson is: shorter (but maybe more ostentatious) is sometimes better.
A wise player once said the key-determining factor to a size of a tournament must be the availability of moderators and scorekeepers. A tournament cannot operate without competent staff people. So let us set forth a simple equation that will help you determine the size of tournament. x+2, where x equals the number of teams attending your tournament. The plus two accounts for the tournament director and the stats master, though they can be one in the same in a pinch. X accounts for a scorekeeper and a moderator in each room. While it is true that you can run a tournament with just moderators, it is always preferred to have a scorekeeper in each room. Teams will offer to bring moderators at times, especially for discounts, take advantage of this. It is much, much better to accept these offers if and only if you know the person to have some idea of question reading. Don’t take just anybody (especially inexperienced players), because you will probably get complaints. There is also a list of moderators on Maize Pages of people who are willing to moderate if asked nicely (http://www.collegequizbowl.org/Maize/moderators.html).
A suggestion is that all members of your team should take turns reading in practice, as so to help prepare them to read. Younger players can be employed as scorekeepers, and never be afraid to trade-off scorekeeping duties between rounds to save peoples’ voices. Creating a stable of moderators should be a priority in the months leading up to the event. Try to rotate moderation duties during your practices. Work to build up volume and clarity, and then build up moderator speed.
Obviously, not everyone will be in an ideal situation that allows their tournament to have two people in each room. This is where byes can come in very handy. Set forth in your announcement that teams will be asked to scorekeep during their bye round and you get 4-8 scorekeepers every round, solving a lot of your problems. In addition, if it’s a packet submission tournament, many people like to read their questions, so feel free to let them, if you know them to be a competent reader.
It is also helpful to keep a contact list of club alumni who are willing to help us out when you hold events. Another good place to look for help is roommates of people on the team.
Lastly, teams should make sure a tournament is fully staffed before fielding any house teams. Every room should have a moderator and a scorekeeper; so that accurate stats are kept and teams aren’t forced to keep score themselves. It’s not very classy to have no scorekeepers but field several house teams in the tournament.
This is where the digital age can come in handy. Stats 99, written by Matt Bruce, is still the best program around. It, along with its read me file, can be downloaded at Maize Pages. Make sure your stat person takes the time to become familiar with its operation and will have a laptop available to them the day of the tournament that allows them to do stats immediately. Teams have come to expect instant feedback, as a TD, you need to do your best to fulfill that expectation.
Hosting means those little things can aid your tournament to run more smoothly. All host information should be included in a follow-up announcement as well as posted on your team’s webpage.
Maps to the playing site
Give routes in from all possible directions to the campus and then to the playing site in a more detailed map for the city limits. Make sure to include directions from your
major local airport to campus. If you have a feasible mass transit system in your city, make sure that you include train directions for out-of-towners.
Parking information, and if needed, permits.
This should maps of feasible and legal parking spaces, and how teams can obtain permits to permission to park in areas if needed. This is exceptionally important.
This should include a list of area hotels with price information, phone numbers, addresses, and proximity to playing site.
An “official” hotel with a block of rooms, if you choose to do so, should be listed.
Give a list of restaurants that are close to the playing site, and a map if possible. Include a hard copy of the map and list for the day of the tournament.
Give people a list of possible places that people can find fun the night before or the night after the tournament.
Questions are more than likely going to be one of the areas in which you will hear the most complaints about your tournament. If you are obtaining your questions from another source, such as NAQT, ACF, et al; then you have far less to worry about, but if you are running packet submission, you have two areas to worry about:
editing those packets which you have received and writing house packets for playoffs or to fill gaps. There are a number of ways in which you do this, but perhaps one of the best is to assign one person to be editor in chief, and one person to be head writer. Obviously, many clubs lack this ability due to a lack of numbers, or sometimes the simple fact that your best editor is also your best or most prolific writer but it can make your life easier.
Lastly, if you think you’re going to totally massacre every packet that is submitted to you, don’t make it a packet-submission tournament. No one wants to waste hours and hours writing questions that will never be used.
The responsibilities of the EIC are numerous, but a brief list must include:
Receiving packets from teams
Formatting packets to standard
Checking Packet for distribution
Running packets during play testing, noting group edits
Assessing the quality of the packet and re-working questions as needed.
Removing repeats from all packets.
Editing should not be left in the hands of just one person. The more people who are brought into the process, the greater the balance that can be achieved by the packet and editing staff. The EIC does have final say and their primary job is to bring about the finished product as well as attempting to achieve the single hardest part of editing, consistency across the tournament. No player wants to go into a room and have packet two have a very different feel than packet one. The EIC should also work to make sure that the packets meet the difficulty expectations set forth in the distribution. Editing is a difficult and often thankless job, and many times, the best compliment you can be paid is when no one complains about the tournament. You need a thick skin to be an editor, so do not take on this job lightly. It is also a very good way to become not only a better question writer, but a better player as well, so if you have the desire and the personality, make it your own. The great rule of packet editing is that no matter how much time you give yourself to do it, you will always need more. Always. Therefore, that in mind, start at least two weeks beforehand, do it little by little. Honestly, start as soon as the packets start coming in. Otherwise, you’ll be up all night for a few nights, making you cranky the day of the tournament. Bother your writers if you have to in order to get packets early. Give teams good incentives to get their packets in early if its a packet-submission tournament. Every effort should be made to use the packets submitted. Even if some editing is required, try to retain as much as you possibly can. However, if you have to totally change a packet, then don’t credit it to that team anymore, because they really aren’t the writers any longer, and it’s not fair that they get crap for a packet someone else wrote.
Dwight Kidder’s notes on the subject:
Editing is an art form, relying on the experience of the editor. An editor has four roles: Fact checker, repeat checker, proofreader, and writer. A quick discussion of each of the roles:
Even the best writers make mistakes; do not accept the question writer’s work as gospel. Each packet should have the main writer’s name attached to it. Feel free to ask what sources they used to obtain a particular fact you cannot verify. If you find information that cannot be verified, or is directly contradictory to your research, cut the question, or cut the fact from the question.
Great minds think alike. The same ideas, answers, and facts will appear in different teams’ submissions. It is best to examine all the questions in the set, and either edit or strike questions which contain repeat information. This has to be done to both team’s questions, it’s not fair to leave one question in one packet, the team that wrote the same question now has an unfair advantage over their opponent in that round.
Everyone mistypes. Everyone includes questions that are missing pronunciation guides, or alternate answers. It’s up to the editor to correct grammatical mistakes, questions that are hard to read, and questions that omit key information. Be kind to your moderators by including pronunciation guides and commas.
After removing questions for repeats, factual errors, and other problems, it’s unlikely you’ll have a complete packet, or even something that could even be considered a complete packet. the editor must provide replacement questions to maintain packet balance; if you intend for each packet to have 4 science boni, and a packet ends up with three, then another science question bonus is needed. (After all, if a packet has three geography tossups, do you replace a geography TU with another geography TU?)
The responsibilities of the head writer are fewer in number, but just as weighty in duty.
Determine the number of playoff/house packets needed.
Assigning the questions to be written to members of the team.
Assembling the packets, editing the packets, ensuring it means the same standards as the questions asked for by the customers.
Submitting packets to the Editor-in-Chief in a beyond-timely fashion.
The head writer should be focused on making the best packets possible, and he/she should not be afraid to recruit members of the program to write questions. However, your tournament is not the time to have players write outside their areas, players should write what they know best as so to best guarantee the quality of those questions and minimize the editing needed on these questions. House packets should ALWAYS meet the standards set forth by the distribution and should follow it to the letter. The house packets should lead by example.
Editors and writers should work together to help make certain that the questions are the least of your concern.
A few more general notes about packets:
They should be done the Wednesday before your tournament, thus allowing the TD and writing crew a chance to not worry about them. If you’re the obsessive compulsive type, it also gives you a chance to let the packets lie for a day or so and look at them with a fresh eye after that. Also, as many people should look at the packets as possible.
You should always have a packet on stand-by as so to account for tiebreakers and any unforeseen circumstances.
You should have enough copies for each room, plus one for the stat room for the protest committee.
If time allows, play test your packets. This not only insures readability, but let’s you determine how long your halves should be.
Week of the Tournament
Do a follow-up announcement to all team captains, through the aforementioned channels, giving teams final instructions, including start times, expected finish time, and any other follow-up information.
Similarly, maps showing where to park and what building the tournament is being held in should be given to the teams before they get there, not after they’ve already stumbled around and figured things out themselves. This info should be included in any email and posted on your website. Most universities now also have extensive maps online, make sure you provide a link to that page.
Finish assembling packets and get them printed and copied. Copy scoresheets, maps, rules, and schedules at the same time. Make sure you get a receipt.
Print out a financial document where discounts for teams are listed and make up receipts for teams.
Emailing teams or otherwise contacting them and letting them know how much money they’ll owe you is also a pretty good idea. That way, all disputes over discounts can be settled before the tournament, and you can focus on your tournament day duties rather than the money.
In any case possible, receipts should not be hand-written and should have a full listing of name, address, and phone number of the person responsible, whether it is the TD or your team’s financial officer. Simply, try to avoid a hand-written receipt at all costs.
Crosscheck to make sure that your rooms are secured and will be opened.
Crosscheck that all of your planned help will be attending. Assume that at least one team will have a last minute emergency.
Double-check that all of your teams buzzer systems are in full working order. Buy a box of spare bulbs to fix both your system and the systems of other teams. Make sure all of your clocks are also working.
Day of the tournament
Get to the tournament site at least 45 minutes before teams have been asked to show up. Eat a good breakfast before you show up, trust us. Emailing teams or otherwise contacting them and letting them know how much money they’ll owe you is also a pretty good idea. That way, all disputes over discounts can be settled before the tournament, and you can focus on your tournament day duties rather than the money.
One of the first tasks should be checking to make sure that all rooms are unlocked. Have a phone number to call to make sure that the rooms can be unlocked ASAP if this has not been dealt with. At this point, you should then post signs directing teams to the rooms, especially if it’s not totally obvious where all the rooms are located. Clear signs should be all over the place telling people where to go. Just pointing in the general direction of where the rooms are is not sufficient for people who have never visited a campus before. Similarly, a schedule should be posted outside of every game room, allowing all players to immediately find copies of the schedule as well as being able to confirm they are in the right place with a relative quickness.
Delegate your crew, who should be showing up a half-hour before, to do the following tasks:
Buzzer Check-in/Set-up (Should be multiple people)
Financial Check-in (a good sample invoice can be found here: http://www.umich.edu/~uac/mac/rules/invoice.doc)
Schedule Poster (This person will post a copy of the schedule outside every game room as well as serve as the point person for the check-in gang.)
Remember, as a TD, it is not your job to micromanage, but rather to look at the “big picture” and assume that you have competent personnel under your direction.
The point of holding a tournament is for people to have fun, period. The TD’s job, on the day of the event, in the big picture, is two-fold. Part one is to hold a well-run, on-time, professional event, and make sure your “customers” have a great time. Many teams spend some of your money on breakfast food people can snack on during the day. It’s not required, but it’s another little moment of diplomacy that can smooth over some rough waters. Joke around, but always make sure you hold a tournament that represents yourself, your club, and your university proudly.
Leave piles of maps, rules, and schedules and extra scoresheets for players to pick up.
A copy of the rules summarized for each team.
A copy of the schedule, ideally one for each member of each team, and each member of the staff. At minimum, there should be one copy for each team, and each staff member.
If you have TVs in your rooms, try and do score updates for teams for major games during the weekend. It sounds silly, but teams do appreciate that.
As TD, you should be delegating and coordinating things. You should run the rules meeting, while an assistant TD should run the moderators’ meeting. There should be a moderator meeting before the tournament, and not just to clarify when lunch is. Everyone should be clear on rules, especially on things like how long each half is for timed tournaments, how to handle protests, and any other questions which might come from the moderators themselves. Remind moderators to get full names from players for the first three rounds to help your stat keeper. Also realize that, especially if you have a large number of moderators, some of them are probably going to do something incorrectly, no matter how thoroughly you go over things. Just be accepting and cope with it as best you can.
Rules and Tiebreakers
Get all the rules on paper if you can. Don’t just count on teams to pay attention at the rules meeting. That way, if there’s a question when the game starts, the game officials can just point to the rules the teams got at registration if there’s any problem. I know this is standard practice at larger tournaments, but not always at smaller ones. At the very least the rules document should list the basic rules (e.g., how long tossups stay alive, recognition rules, conferring rules, etc.).
Another issue that seems to come up repeatedly—especially at “modified ACF” events—is whether or not moderators should read answers after each part or not; almost inevitably, some will, while some won’t. The TD should make sure that it’s handled the same way in every room (unless both teams agree before their match starts to do it differently).
Also, make sure that the hierarchy of tiebreakers is clearly established in the rules meeting. As a rule, this order works well:
For two teams that are tied:
The winner of the head-to-head match-up wins the tiebreaker.
For three or more teams that are tied:
Also known as “the circle of death,” head-to-head should still be the first choice, if one team has beaten all of the other teams it is tied with, they should advance. After that, total points should be the next tiebreaker. Since you cannot play defense in Quiz Bowl, total points is the fairest. Remember though, in a timed tournament, it should be points per question heard, which means you need to have questions heard included on the scoresheets.
Staying on Time
Try to run on time as best as possible — maybe do a dry run of as much as you can a little before the tournament. However, if (when) things do happen, and things start running late, keep the teams informed about the cause of the delay and the estimated time of completion. People will be a lot more understanding if they are aware of what’s going on and when they can expect things to finish.
As for lunch, barring a campus devoid of food, no more than an hour should be needed to allow teams to get lunch. Make it very clear that tardiness will not be allowed and that matches will begin at the appointed time, whether the team is present or not. It may sound extreme, but in this case, it prevents dawdling. Another assist to teams is again, a map of local eating establishments.
Remember, barring natural disaster, no tournament should ever run past 7 p.m., including the playoff rounds, unless teams have been alerted ahead of time, and give their approval to a later conclusion. If necessary, the start time should be moved up or the lunch break should be shortened.
While some would point to the essential component of success of a quiz bowl event being a boundless supply of ice water in every room, in practice, it’s almost a non-issue whether it is preferable to supply refreshment during rounds. A nearby vending machine handles most of those issues equally well, and at a much lower cost to the host. That said, it is a very nice touch to bring a supply of breakfast foods to the opening meeting. It won’t save a bad tournament in having food, and it won’t kill a good tournament to not do it, but it is a good opportunity for teams to get to know each other before they meet in battle. If you can’t arrange to have food for the teams, at the very least, try to arrange for juice/water/etc., for the moderators.
Questions should be kept in the moderators/stats room. Using a system a la Card Sharks where packets are stacked on desks in a row, allows you to keep them in order while not allowing any one to get confused. Packet one is handed out and the moderator/scorekeeper do not get packet two until they turn in their score sheet and packet one. This prevents misreading packets and other assorted screw-ups. Also, encourage moderators to say before starting a game — “The questions for this packet are by so-and-so”. That way, if the team who wrote the packet is playing, the situation can be handled before the games start.
Keep a folder for scoresheets after they have been input into the hard drive. It ensures you can go back and double check input errors.
Do score updates at least every other round and after lunch as well as before playoffs (at which time you calculate “all-stars”). The more detailed the stats that you can post at any given time, the happier your teams will be. However, your first duty to teams during a tournament is updated and correct team stats after each round. Every thing else is bonus. Win-loss records are by far the most important thing. And if things go wrong, this should obviously take a back seat to anything else.
Length of Rounds
In determining how long rounds should be run, careful consideration must be given to what format you’re playing, how many buildings you are using, how long teams must travel between rounds, and how long it will take the furthest away moderator from getting to tournament central. If you are playing a timed round, this is easy since you at least know a game should (barring disasters) take a certain amount of time. Non-timed matches (ACF and Trash) generally take 20-30 minutes for a game, depending on question length. If you are not expecting any floor movement (teams will stay on the same floor), add an extra 8 minutes to the expected time of games. If you do have floor movement, add 10 minutes. If you have building movement, add 15 minutes. It is highly recommended that you keep building shuffling to a minimum, and possibly having two tournament centrals, one for each building.
Form a protest committee of three trusted officials, making sure that one of them is indeed yourself. Editor in Chief and Head Writer are also good people to call upon in this situation. They will handle all issues that arise from protests. They should also not be afraid to consult with other, non-partial personnel, especially if it’s a factual discrepancy within the question. Find people with expertise and use that knowledge to resolve the protest. You should make sure you make the protest rules clear during the rules meeting and that all moderators are aware of them as well. Remember that most formats will only consider protests that affect the outcome of a game. This will make your life much easier, as you will not have to deal with most of the protests.
Moderators (and scorekeepers can assist in this matter) must be allowed to have discretion in all game play incidents, such as who buzzed first, whether recognition was followed, and what was answered (mispronunciations and the like). A moderator’s decision is final in all matters of this sort and a tournament director should back that decision at all times. Do not allow outside forces to pressure you into changing your decision, make the call, and stick by it, the worst thing you can do is waffle. OTOH, if you have specific preferences regarding the rules, you should make them clear up-front (e.g., reading of answers on boni)
If you’re mandating that protests have to be settled in-room, make sure that your moderators actually have the expertise to adjudicate such things. This hasn’t been too much of a problem at the college level, but there have been high school tournaments where parents or chaperones were reading in the rooms and protests weren’t allowed to be taken outside. It’s frustrating to both teams.
Even at the most eagerly anticipated events, teams cancel at the last moment, or forget to cancel at the last moment. Even in the best weather, teams can be waylaid on their way to your tournament. Unfortunately, both these happenings look identical to a tournament wanting to start on time. Since you’ve already set up your schedule, there’s no way to correct what has occurred. You’ll have to make do. Here’s what to do if a team isn’t at the tournament when you are, there are two methods.
If you only have one team missing, swap its bye round with the first round.
If you have more that one missing, find the rounds in which those teams play each other, and move that round to the first round.
This gives those teams a round to get to the tournament. Then you can start forfeiting their rounds with round two.
The alternative method works if there are several long breaks throughout the competition, (e.g. a multiple day tournament). If a team is missing, rounds proceed as normal, except that teams that would play the missing team are not allowed to sit in on rounds that they would play the missing team. If the team does not show up, it usually becomes apparent within four rounds, and the remaining rounds become normal forfeits. However, if they appear, the team that didn’t get a chance to play them may play them on breaks. This is up to the team that was present, if they do not want to do so; it goes as a forfeit for the team that was late.
Your tournament will have hiccups; figure out your new direction, and make sure all teams are aware of it. For example, if changes are made to a schedule, and the changes are written on a blackboard, everyone should have access to the room in which that blackboard is located.
Keep in mind that barring natural disaster, no tournament should ever run more than nine hours from the beginning of play, including the playoff rounds. If necessary, the start time should be moved up or the lunch break should be shortened.
Before beginning playoffs, do an announcement that allows people to crosscheck their stats with what you have. Do placements for non-playoff teams; allow playoff high seeds to choose their moderators in first round, by joint agreement second round and later.
After completion of finals, award trophies. Be flexible enough to award all-star trophies to teams that will be departing early (this is why you do that announcement before the playoffs.)
Tell everyone that stats will be emailed in the coming days and encourage them to come back the next year. Allow time to announce upcoming tournaments.
Occasionally ignored, but it really should not be. First things first, go to the bar, go to sleep, just make sure you get some rest. You have earned it. Then, the next day, start assembling the stats and begin writing your announcement of results to the same places you mailed your announcement: QB, the Yahoo! board, and direct email, ads well as a results website. This should include final placement of teams and final individual stats. This should never take more than three days. Also, compliment fine play, thank all of those who helped you get through the tournament, and give an email address for feedback from players.
Offer questions for sale or trade to those teams who were not able to attend the tournament.
Assemble everything you have done and put it in a folder on your hard drive. Pass it along to the poor soul that will be the TD next year.
Appendix I: Duties of Moderators
The reader/moderator is perhaps the most important official in any quiz bowl tournament. Players generally interact more with readers than with other tournament officials because each match requires a reader. Because of the impact of the reader to any match, it is imperative that all readers acknowledge and comprehend the expectations and standards that all players have in general with what constitutes a “good” or “competent” reader.
Top things a reader should do:
Practice reading in front of your team during scrimmages. Here is where you will iron out any bugs you have in your style and presentation (suggestions as listed below). It’s also better to embarrass yourself in front of friends than during a tournament game.
Maintain impartiality and ethical standards. Never try to give hints to answers to any team or player at the expense of another. Never be condescending to a player or a team. Anything that may be construed or inferred as assisting one team player over another not only hurts the reputation of the tournament but also is unethical and unprofessional. If you feel you are not able to be impartial in a match (for example, involving your host team), contact a tournament director or switch match assignments with another reader.
Read clearly. If you don’t read clearly, no one will understand you. Worse yet, everyone will misunderstand you, resulting in needless frustration by players. Don’t force your voice to be louder by stressing your throat, or else you’ll quickly lose your voice.
Read naturally at a comfortable, moving pace. Players want to hear questions and more questions. Don’t pause too much between questions; make sure you have a good system to switch between pages or binders of questions in the course of a round, especially in timed match play. No inappropriate pauses or cadence changes please; you are not a quarterback trying to draw players offside or bait them into interrupting you. Remember that a match of 20 tossups and associated bonuses should last no more than 25 minutes.
Present the question. Don’t read in monotone, but remember you are “presenting” the question, helping the teams figure out what the answer is, perhaps using vocal inflection to stress important clues.
Once you hear someone buzz in, immediately stop reading, and recognize the player to receive the answer. When I mean “immediately stop,” I mean “not even one extra syllable” should be read following the buzz.
Don’t editorialize while you read. Again, teams want to hear questions, not opinions. Give your opinions during practice or at a tournament when the match is over. Better yet, give your opinions when the tournament is over.
Understand the rules. Not all tournaments use the same rules and you should understand what each nuance is when you execute each match. (Note to tournament organizers: if the moderators don’t understand the rules, you have to explain the rules more clearly to everyone.)
Make clear, consistent decisions on recognition, consultation on tossups, designation on bonuses, “correctness” of answers, and “timeliness” of answers. If you have any ambivalence or inconsistency in these areas, you will be eaten alive by both teams or their coaches. If they disagree with your decision, they could protest (depending on the rules), but you must establish your authority. Any problems therein can be taken under advisement with the tournament directors. If you wish to be proactive, you may ask tournament directors for what the general standard is on these issues.
Make running a match easy for you. While a few moderators can read, keep score, and keep time, it should never be expected of a reader to do all these tasks simultaneously. Never hesitate to ask for help from a volunteer from the audience, provided he/she assures you of his/her impartiality. Remember, your task is first and foremost to present the questions and move the game at a good pace.
Remember the authority hierarchy. You need not have to deal with all disruptions. However, if you think that a player, coach, or audience member is not going to respect your authority as a tournament official, get the tournament director.
If there is a problem with logistics in a tournament, tell the tournament director immediately. I once stopped a tournament because I didn’t know what to do when I was about to read questions authored by one of the teams involved in that match. Problems such as reading the wrong packet do occur, and you should get the advice of the tournament director before continuing.
Never fear criticism. Request feedback from the players and other audience members about how you read and adjust accordingly. If any player or coach personally attacks you, report the incident to tournament officials, but anything short of that should be regarded as constructive criticism.
Make the game fun. A long tournament is physically and mentally draining, so make sure that each player is comfortable and at least enjoys playing the match, no matter the outcome. If you are not having fun reading the questions, no doubt the players will have no fun listening to them. Remember that you establish the tone of play in your room for each match with your reading style.
During the tournament
Get a schedule of matches. If match-ups are determined “randomly,” you’ll have to be more trusting of the schedule-makers and hope the right teams are in your room. You also need to know whether you have a bye in reading, as it is sometimes the case.
Do a little cleaning. After each match, clear off any scratch sheets, and replace them with clean sheets. Make sure there are enough pens/pencils available.
Record names of players on scoresheet, if there is space to do so. Determine who are the captains.
Always do a buzzer check before the match starts. If a buzzer is malfunctioning, you have the right to stop the match until that problem is resolved satisfactorily. In addition, this is to make sure the right teams are in the match that is scheduled.
Make sure you’re playing the right game before you begin. Are you reading the correct game packet? Are there people in the audience who should be playing? Is the clock ready (for timed matches)?
Recognition: Tell the teams how you recognize individuals to answer tossup questions. If you’re starting out, it’s adequate to point to the person who buzzed in to declare recognition. If there are name cards in front of the players, you can verbally recognize the player that buzzes in first by name.
After the match, determine or resolve protests as best as you can. If captains are required to sign the scoresheet, agreeing with the outcome of the match, don’t forget to do that before the teams leave. Make sure everyone who borrows pencils and pens gives them back.
Suggestions to be a “better” reader
Be familiar with foreign languages. The more you understand the nuances of French, Spanish, German, Russian, Japanese, and other languages the better you will be in adjusting to unfamiliar foreign names, words and phrases that tend to appear in many questions. For me, my friendships and interactions with international students as an undergraduate and graduate student have helped tremendously. If this is not available for you, consult many other readers; either someone will know, or you all will agree to the same “bad” pronunciation in your matches.
Preview the questions if you can. This way you can plan which words to emphasize. More importantly, you can pick out the questions that may be outright wrong. However, outside of a group of moderators in a secure room, never discuss any questions that have not been publicly read.
Learn from your mistakes. No one starts as an “experienced” reader. Refine your reading style based on the feedback you get from players in matches.
This document is a collaborative effort of the quiz bowl community, and thus, many people need to be acknowledged for their ideas and efforts.
Firstly, this document’s genesis comes from an idea by Lauren Arestie of Northwestern University’s Quiz Bowl Team. Without her proposal of a “Player’s Bill of Rights,” this document would not exist. I thank her for seeing the need for this within the community and for her gracious permission to go forth and create it.
Thanks to Michigan’s Craig Barker, Cornell’s Dwight Kidder, CWRU’s Anthony de Jesus, Northwestern’s Lauren Arestie, Georgia’s Victoria Rubin, Duke/CWRU’s Emil Thomas Chuck, GW’s Edmund Schluessel, BU’s Jon Couture, Michigan/CSU’s Mike Burger, Yale/Penn’s Samer Ismail, Scripps’ Nancy Williams, UWO/Michigan’s David Thorsley, and MIT/SFU’s Peter McCorquodalefor their editing contributions and writing additions to this document.
No one person could make this document as complete as the unified efforts of the community coming together like this. If you have a piece of advice you’d like to pass on, please do so, this document should continue to improve with age and experience.
This is a living document, keep it alive.
Quiz bowl (or quizbowl) is a family of games of questions and answers on all topics of human knowledge that is commonly played by students enrolled in high school or college, although some participants begin in middle or even elementary school. Participants may benefit from studying a broad range of academic subjects, increasing memorization and study skills, learning to work in teams and expanding capacity for responsibility.
The game is typically played with a lockout buzzer system between some number of teams, most commonly two teams of four or five players each. A moderator reads questions to the teams, whose players endeavor to buzz in first with the correct answer, scoring points for their team.
Quiz bowl is also known by various other names, such as Academic Bowl, Academic Challenge, Academic League, Academic Team, Battle of the Brains, Brain Bowl, Brain Game, College Bowl, It’s Academic, Knowledge Bowl, Scholar Quiz Bowl, Scholastic Bowl, and Scholar’s Bowl.
There are several different formats of quiz bowl, but they generally share the following rules for playing.
Two teams of (typically) 4 players, sometimes 5, each sit at a buzzer set, which is like a set of TV game show buzzers. Anyone who rings or buzzes in prevents anyone else from doing so. If a round is timed, a countdown timer is used. Most questions have a 5 second time limit after a question has been read. Each game is played with a packet of questions, which a moderator reads.
There are two basic types of questions asked: tossups (typically worth 10-15 points) and bonuses (worth a maximum of 20–40 points). Other types of questions include lightning or rapid-fire rounds, which usually consist of ten questions and sixty seconds, with only one team given the chance to respond. The other team may have the chance to answer the questions the first team missed; then the second team gets its own set of questions, and the first team may get to answer any missed questions.
Tossup questions, commonly referred to as tossups, can be answered by any player from either team. Tossups must be answered individually, without the aid of teammates or the audience. Aid by teammates is known as conferring and is generally not allowed. The first person from either side to buzz in may attempt to answer the question. Unlike the current version of Jeopardy!, one may interrupt the moderator and give an answer. If the answer given is incorrect, then no other member of their team may attempt to answer and only players from the other team may buzz in. Only one player per team may try to answer a given question.
In most American formats, correct tossup answers earn the team 10 points. In some formats, if the question is answered prior to a certain clue in the question, the team earns 15 or 20 points. In some formats, answering the question incorrectly after interrupting the question, results in a five point penalty.
If a tossup is successfully answered, the answerer’s team is given control of a bonus question. The bonus question is usually given in multiple parts, with each part being worth a stated number of points. Teams are generally permitted to confer with each other on these questions. In some formats, only the team which answered the tossup question correctly can answer the bonus. In other formats, the other team is given an opportunity to answer any parts of the bonus that were not answered by the team in control of the bonus.
Bonuses can only be answered by one team (at the high school level, some formats allow the other team to answer parts of the bonus question which the first team fails to answer; this is called rebounding or a bounce-back). The team may work together (confer) to answer the bonus question. Usually, bonus questions require multi-part answers, and tossups single-part answers.
- Total of 20 to 30 points possible (ACF and NAQT formats currently set all bonuses at 30 points)
- Often have multiple parts, each worth a small number of points (most typically, three parts, each worth 10 points)
- No penalty for wrong answers
- Scoring is only done in multiples of 5 (except in rare cases in the Illinois system when there are 3 or 5 part bonuses, the usual is 4 parts)
Games are either played in timed halves, or until a set number of tossups are read. In the case of a tied score, a tiebreaker is used. The nature of the tiebreaker varies by tournament and format. If a player or team feels that a question is in error, a protest may be made. If the tossup would have affected the outcome of the game then the question is held for reevaluation, at which time points are adjusted if necessary.
Overtime only happens if there is a tie at the end of regulation play. This varies from format to format, and may include extra toss-ups until the score changes, entire toss-up/bonus sets until one team leads at the end of a set, a multiple-toss-up playoff, or a timed period of 1 to 3 minutes.
We all know academic competitions plays a vital role in the development of child mind and their learning process and this is why many reputed schools and collages host such competitions every year.
A good academic competition among various institutions promotes other vital things such as donations, prestige and even research grants. Academic competitions have actually been the motivational force behind better facilities of the school, improved sports equipments and campus services.
History tells us, it is proven that the most competitive schools and collages always promote higher education and with these good efforts, they are awarded the best grants and many other benefits. This makes the quality education even better and students have the access to the best curriculum and programs.
Undoubtedly, competition and education has been in the middle of human existence since the immemorial and these 2 elements went hand in hand when it comes to the human development and social interaction. Education is the key in transmitting skills, culture and beliefs, and academic competitions are probably the best way to do that.
Competitions gave birth to a lot of great people in history. Compactions and education are inter-related as both of them aim to promote better development of child. What students learn can be tested through the academic competitions; in fact, it is the easiest way to pinpoint one’s strength and flaws.
Other forms of academic competitions can boost confidence and morale of the students. Students always try to put their best in the competitions. When it comes to the educational system, academic competitions have so many things to offer. It gauges the amount of knowledge that one derived from attending educational curriculum programs.