Tiebreaker Policy

NAQT has a specific policy on what tiebreakers may be used to differentiate teams with identical records, either for the purpose of rebracketing during a tournament or determining the championship or the final order-of-finish. These rules apply only to Sectional Championship Tournaments, Community College Sectional Championship Tournaments, and NAQT national championship, though other events are encouraged to adopt them as well.

Unless a tournament is using some variant of power-matching, rebracketing and final results should be decided on the basis of won-lost records. Tiebreakers are applied to distinguish between teams with identical won-lost records, but neither statistical nor head-to-head-based tiebreakers may be used. Common examples of statistical tiebreakers (none of which may be used) are total points scored, total point differential, points per tossup heard, and so forth.

Note that if a tournament is broken into playoff brackets, that division takes precedence over win-loss record—it is impossible for a team from a lower bracket to finish higher than one from a higher bracket based solely on performance within those brackets. Additional games between the teams could be used to justify such a result.

If ties must be broken (as is the case in rebracketing or determining the championship, but not necessarily for reporting overall results for lower-finishing teams), they must be played off, at the buzzer. It is permissible to use statistical tiebreakers to determine the order in which teams play. Tiebreaker games must be played according to normal rules; in particular, they must include bonuses and involve only two teams at one time).

For example, if a twelve-team tournament is rebracketed into an upper six teams and a bottom six teams and the sixth-place and seventh-place teams are tied at 6–5 after a full round robin, they should play a whole or half game (at the tournament director’s discretion) to determine who advances to the upper bracket. If teams five, six, and seven are tied at 5–6, however, statistics may be used to determine which two play each other for the “privilege” of playing the third team for the remaining spot in the upper bracket. If the fifth and sixth place teams were tied, however, no tiebreaker would be necessary since both were destined for the same bracket. After the rebracketing, regardless of overall record, the lower-bracket teams must receive lower placement than the higher-bracket teams (unless further games between them are scheduled).

Tournament hosts must be aware of the possible ways in which their chosen format might require tiebreaker games and plan their schedule accordingly.

NAQT has prepared brackets for conducting many common tiebreaker situations. Teams should be seeded into the tiebreakers in descending order of points per tossup heard. Half- or third-games may be necessary in some cases; these are untimed games consisting of half or one-third as many tossup-bonus cycles as there are in a complete packet, rounded down if necessary.

The only exception to this policy is if the schedule, either by design or as a result of earlier tiebreakers or mistakes, already requires all of the questions provided by NAQT for the tournament. Only in that case will NAQT condone the use of statistical (not head-to-head-based) tiebreakers to determine rebracketing (but not final results). If statistical tiebreakers must be used in this case, the statistic used must be points-per-tossup heard.

If a tournament uses a format that is strongly dependent on strength-of-schedule factors (such as most power-matching formulas) so that rankings are not primarily determined by won-lost records, this policy does not apply; it is assumed that the strength-of-schedule factors will sufficiently differentiate between teams with identical records.