2016 High School National Championship Tournament

NAQT is pleased to announce that its 2016 High School National Championship Tournament will be held at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, TX, on May 28–29, 2016.

Note that NAQT also runs a Small School National Championship Tournament for which some high schools are eligible. Please make sure you are looking at information for the proper tournament; this page concerns the HSNCT, which is NAQT’s overall championship for all high schools.

Registration has closed.


May 28–29, 2016 (Saturday–Sunday). This is Memorial Day weekend.

Teams will check in on Friday, May 27, and have the opportunity to meet each other and play scrimmage matches on official NAQT questions. The tournament’s preliminary games will take place on Saturday, and the playoff games will take place on Sunday. Teams may stay through Monday (or longer!) to explore Dallas at the discounted hotel rates negotiated by NAQT. Teams that cannot arrive on Friday night will have a chance to check in on Saturday morning (if they notify NAQT of the situation in advance).


The Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, Texas. This building is both the official hotel and contains all of the competition rooms. An online floor plan (PDF) is available.


This schedule is final.

Friday (evening)
1:00–5:00Early Buzzer Bonus check-inConference Registartion (near Atrium Entrance)
5:00 (or upon arrival)Staff check-inGrand Ballroom B (Atrium II)
6:00–9:30Team check-inConference Registration (near Atrium Entrance)
6:00–9:30Scrimmage organizationTower Mezzanine Prefunction (outside Monet Ballroom)
7:00–8:00Late-arrival team check-inChantilly Foyer (Tower First Floor)
7:30Late-arrival staff check-inGrand Ballroom B (Atrium II)
7:40All staff check-inGrand Ballroom B (Atrium II)
8:00–8:15Players’ and coaches’ meetingChantilly Ballroom (Tower First Floor)
8:00–8:30Staff meetingGrand Ballroom B (Atrium II)
9:00–12:30Rounds 1–7Meeting rooms and parlors
12:30–2:00Lunch (not provided)
2:00–7:00Rounds 8–16Meeting rooms and parlors
8:15–9:15QANTA demonstration matchChantilly Ballroom (Tower First Floor)
7:00Playoff pairings postedInformation Desk (Chantilly Foyer, near the elephants)
7:00–8:15Card pick-up (all playoff teams)Information Desk (Chantilly Foyer, near the elephants)
8:00–8:30Playoff staff meetingGrand Ballroom B (Atrium II)
8:00–8:30Consolation staff meetingPlum Blossom B (Atrium II)
8:30–12:00Rounds 17–22Meeting rooms
8:30–8:45Consolation mini-tournament launchConference Registration (near Atrium Entrance)
8:45–12:00Ad-hoc consolation organizationConference Registration
12:00–1:00Lunch (not provided)
1:00–2:20Rounds 23–24Meeting rooms
2:20Finals (1 or 2 games)Chantilly Ballroom (Tower First Floor)
After finalsAwardsChantilly Ballroom (Tower First Floor)
After awardsBuzzer returnGrand Ballroom A (Atrium II)
After awardsQuestion distributionTBA
6:00–11:00ACRONYM check-in/meetingOutside Monet Ballroom (Tower Mezzanine)

On Saturday morning teams should be in the Chantilly Ballroom by 7:55 a.m.

A printable Time and Place Guide is available.

Information Desk:

Starting Friday evening, NAQT will operate an Information Desk in the Chantilly Foyer, near the elephants. The Information Desk will be in contact with all control rooms and the stat room throughout the day. The Information Desk should be the first place teams go with any question about the tournament. NAQT will also be selling practice questions and tournament T-shirts at the Information Desk.

New this year, participants may text 1‑913‑703‑6278 (“NAQT”) with questions so that they do not need to physically go to the Information Desk. Standard messaging rates apply.

Note that one question the Information Desk cannot (easily) help with is “Where is my team currently playing?” As a result of the power-matched format, NAQT cannot quickly locate teams during the day faster than calling or texting the mobile number provided for the chaperone. We will, of course, do our utmost to find lost teams (or lost players), but it won’t be a quick process (and probably no quicker than just calling the chaperone directly).


Schools qualify to send teams to the HSNCT through their performance at NAQT invitational events and NAQT State Championships held throughout the year.

Registration has closed.


The field for the tournament is limited to 272 teams.

Online registration has opened; the current field is listed here.


Teams are guaranteed exactly ten preliminary matches on Saturday. Those matches will be determined by power-matching, so that teams with similar records will be playing each other in every round. Every team with a winning record (6–4 or better) will advance to the playoffs. The elimination playoffs will be held on Sunday; teams that finished Saturday 7–3 or better can lose twice before being eliminated; teams that finished 6–4 on Saturday will be eliminated after a single loss.

A total of 16 rounds will be played on Saturday, so each team will have exactly 6 byes. Either 9 or 10 rounds will be played on Sunday, depending on whether the champion finishes with a playoff loss or not.

All playoff teams must pick up their playoff cards at the Information Desk between 7:00 and 8:20 a.m. on Sunday. The first-round Sunday pairings and an overall bracket will be posted at the Information Desk by 7:00 a.m.

This is identical to last year’s format.

The 2016 HSNCT Format Guide (PDF) provides a more in-depth discussion of the format.

Consolation Rounds:

Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs are encouraged to return on Sunday to play against any other teams they want (or to mix-and-match from across the country) on the playoff questions. These consolation rounds will be moderated by tournament staff. Please note that all students, even alternates or observers, are welcome to take part. Teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs may also take part.

Two kinds of consolation rounds will be offered:

  • Mini-tournaments. These will be three-, four-, or five-round power-matched events that run relatively efficiently, but they involve a commitment to stay for all of the rounds. Teams can sign up for these starting Saturday evening. Teams can also sign up Sunday morning, but the berths will be first-come, first-served, so teams that really care about getting a spot in one of the larger events should make a point of signing up on Saturday evening. Teams in mini-tournaments should arrive at the Conference Registration desk (near the Atrium Entrance) by 8:30 a.m. on Sunday to ensure that their events start on time.

  • Ad hoc matches. These involve no commitment, but they will take longer to organize as available teams will be manually paired against each other as rooms, packets, and readers become available. If you only want one or two additional games, you want to go for this option. Teams may also play ad hoc matches after they are eliminated from the playoffs or after their mini-tournament finishes. Ad hoc matches will be organized at the Conference Registration desk (near the Atrium Entrance) starting at 8:45 a.m. (after the mini-tournaments have been launched).

If rooms, buzzers, or staffers run short, consolation mini-tournaments will be given priority over ad hoc matches. Given the 272-team field (and expected standby list), it is quite likely that a team will face a 30-minute delay if it arrives at 8:45 a.m. hoping for an ad hoc match.

The consolation rounds (whether mini-tournaments or not) have no effect on a team’s overall standing in the tournament. They are played solely for fun.


Registration has closed.

The registration fee is $655 per team if payment is received on or before May 6, 2016. The fee is $685 per team on or after May 7. Schools that did not qualify until after April 1 have until May 13 to register at the lower rate. The deadline to accept an invitation is May 20, or when the field fills, whichever comes first.

The field has historically filled; qualifying for the tournament does not guarantee a spot in the field, it merely enables your team to register for one of the spots. Once you have qualified, you should register as soon as you can to ensure your team a berth in the tournament. The field for the 2015 HSNCT filled around March 1 (though a number of teams were promoted from the waitlist after that).

One week after the field closes (and the waitlist starts), teams that withdraw from the tournament will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee as a cancellation penalty. In addition, even if the field has not closed, teams that cancel on or after April 15 will be liable for one-tenth of the base registration fee; teams that cancel on or after May 1 will be liable for one-half of the base registration fee; and teams that cancel on or after May 20 will be liable for 75% of the base registration fee. Those deadlines notwithstanding, every team will have a one-week grace period from the time of its registration during which it may cancel with no penalty.

The registration fee only covers participation in the tournament. It does not cover transportation, lodging, food, or other expenses.

Teams bringing a working lockout system to the tournament will be eligible for a $20 discount on the registration fee if it meets NAQT’s national-championship standards. There may be some surprises in that policy! Please read it in advance to make sure your system qualifies. Each team may claim up to two such discounts. NAQT will only award the discount for lockout systems that it can keep from check-in until 1:00 p.m. Sunday. If a team anticipates leaving before that, we would prefer to use (and discount) a different system to avoid inconveniencing that team and ourselves.

New for this tournament, NAQT will also be paying a $20 cash “Early Buzzer Bonus” for every buzzer system dropped off between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Friday at the Conference Registration desk (this is the same place that check-in will be later in the evening). It is valuable for us to get buzzers early (so we can test them and have them ready for scrimmage rounds), and we are willing to pay for that. A team can thus get a total of $40 for each of its buzzers ($20 discount, $20 Early Buzzer Bonus), assuming it lists them on its registration form and drops them off between 1:00 and 5:00 on Friday. The bonus will be paid immediately, in cash, to whomever drops the buzzer off.

NAQT will begin returning team lockout systems at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday (and not before, except in emergencies). As mentioned above, this might make it impractical for teams planning to leave as soon as they are eliminated to receive lockout-system discounts (as their systems will not have been returned at that point). Teams should plan on picking up their systems prior to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. If a team is unable to do that, it should make prior arrangements with NAQT for the disposition of the system. Lockout systems will be returned from a desk in Grand Ballroom A.

Teams attending both the HSNCT and the SSNCT will receive a $100 discount on their HSNCT entrance fee.

Teams may supply one or more qualified staffers for the tournament to earn discounts on their registration fees. Teams will receive a $50 discount for each staffer on Saturday and a $50 discount for each staffer on Sunday (for a total of $100 if the staffer works both days). Team staffers may be assigned as scorekeepers, control room staff, scoresheet checkers, or other roles at NAQT’s discretion; they will not have a chance to watch their team’s matches. The transportation, lodging, and all other expenses of team-supplied staffers will be borne by the team, not by NAQT. In addition, a team claiming this discount must still have at least one adult coach/chaperone with each team at all matches.

In addition to the above “trained” positions, NAQT needs a limited number of untrained “runners.” These positions are Saturday-only, and they will earn their team a $50 discount. Runner positions are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Teams wishing to supply a runner must make this request on their registration and receive confirmation from NAQT; otherwise, all registered staff members must complete the online training to receive the discount.

Unlike at previous HSNCTs, teams cannot “split” a single staff discount across two people: Each daily staff discount must be earned by a single staffer. (But it is perfectly fine to have one person earn a discount for working (all of) Saturday and another person earn a discount for working (all of) Sunday.)

The last day for a team to declare that it is bringing a staffer to the HSNCT is April 11. Team staffers suggested after that date may be accepted or rejected at NAQT’s discretion.

Teams that cancel a staffer (of any kind) after April 25, will not only forfeit the discount, but will be charged a $75 penalty to offset NAQT’s cost for finding a replacement.

In addition to earning discounts by bringing staffers to the HSNCT itself, schools may earn discounts on their HSNCT registration by staffing NAQT’s other national championships: the CCCT (Atlanta), ICT (Chicago), SSNCT (Chicago), and MSNCT (Atlanta) according to our cross-tournament discount program.

Every competing school will receive a complete copy of the question set used at this tournament. Please note that teams that do not pick up their questions at the tournament itself will be charged a shipping fee ($10) by NAQT to mail them. Questions will not be distributed until the end of the tournament.

Team rosters may be changed at any time prior to the start of the HSNCT, so it is neither necessary nor desirable to wait to register until a team’s composition has been definitively decided. Register as soon as possible and, if necessary, update the registration when the composition of a team changes.

Checking In:

NAQT will be checking teams in, disbursing information folders, answering questions, and handling outstanding administrative matters between 6:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Friday, May 27. After teams arrive at the hotel on Friday night, one coach or chaperone should go to the check-in area. That representative will be given the team’s information folder. Team members are encouraged to take advantage of the social and practice opportunities on Friday night.

Check-in will start at 6:00. Historically, there is a long line just after the check-in desk opens, so we encourage teams to glance at the line every 20-30 minutes and to come check in when it is short. There is no good reason to check in immediately! In particular, teams can play scrimmage rounds even if they have not checked in. There is no problem with a team arriving at the hotel at 6:40, playing a scrimmage game, grabbing dinner, playing another scrimmage game, and then checking in at 9:10 when there is nobody in line.

Remember that NAQT is paying an additional “Early Buzzer Bonus” of $20 for lockout systems that are dropped off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Regardless of when you choose to check in, please consider dropping off your systems during this window to earn yourself a little extra cash and to help us make sure we have everything ready for scrimmages to begin at 6:00.

Teams that don’t arrive at the hotel until after 9:30 p.m. on Friday may check in between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. Teams that checked in on Friday do not need to check in again on Saturday.


Between 6:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Friday night, game rooms will be set up for teams to scrimmage against each other on questions from previous championships. This scrimmaging is free and will be moderated by tournament staff. We encourage all teams to come by to play a practice game or two.

Scrimmages will be organized by means of “scrimmage tickets”: When a team shows up to the scrimmage desk, it will be given a ticket listing a room and a time; that team should go to that room and be prepared to play at that time. The majority of tickets will be for games that start within 5-15 minutes, but it is possible that there could be a 30-45-minute wait during the busiest periods. If a team wants to play another match, it should return to the scrimmage desk to get another ticket after its game finishes.

Scrimmages are open to all players, including alternates and standby teams. Ineligible players (e.g., parents or coaches) may compete if both teams are amenable to their participation, but the purpose of the scrimmages is to let actual teams experience actual tournament conditions. A more appropriate time for parents and coaches to partake of quiz bowl is during the Sunday consolation rounds.

QANTA Demonstration Match:

In 2015, the artificial intelligence QANTA and a team of quiz-show champions put on a thrilling contest that ended in disappointment for everyone—a draw! This year, the QANTA demonstration is back, and the honor of humanity is once again on the line. The rematch will take place at 8:15 on Saturday evening.


The exact list of trophies and awards has not yet been announced, but it will be similar to last year’s list, when the top 33 teams received team trophies and the top 30 All-Stars received individual awards.

Players must have at least 160 tossups heard (approximately eight games) to be eligible for individual awards.

If a team needs to leave prior to the award ceremony, it can pick up All-Star or Rising Star awards earned by its members at the Information Desk.

Popular Culture Side Event: ACRONYM:

Because the contract with the hotel included use of the meeting rooms on Sunday night, NAQT has arranged with Armstrong High School (MN) and Erik Nelson to host a mirror of Armstrong’s ACRONYM popular culture tournament as a “side event” on Sunday evening. This event is not part of the official championship and is entirely optional.

The mirror is open to all people at the national championship including players, coaches, parents, and staffers, except those who have played the ACRONYM IX question set at a prior tournament. People affiliated with schools may mix-and-match to form chimera teams. There is a separate registration fee ($90) for the ACRONYM mirror. Most side events have a lenient registration policy that allows teams to sign up immediately prior to an event’s start, but NAQT suspects that the ACRONYM field will fill (and thus encourages teams to register as soon as they can commit).

More information about the side event has been posted on hsquizbowl.org and questions can be directed to Erik Nelson.

Registration for ACRONYM is now open. If you are registering a mixed team or a team that wants to play under a nonstandard name, you may need to create a new organization, affiliate yourself with it, and then register under its name.


The most convenient airport is Dallas Love Field (airport code DAL). Teams can also fly to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (code DFW), but the trip to the hotel will be considerably longer.

The hotel does not have a shuttle to either airport: Teams will need to rent a car, ride the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) train, take a cab, summon an Uber, etc.


The official hotel for the tournament is the Hilton Anatole itself. Quadruple-occupancy rooms (with two double beds) are available for $117 per night. To receive that rate, book online or mention “NAQT” when making a reservation over the phone. The last day to reserve rooms at this special price is May 6. Note that there are several Hilton hotels in the Metroplex: Make sure you are reserving rooms at the proper place!

We have a room block that is calculated to cover the entire tournament, but it can’t hurt for our attendees to make their reservations at the earliest possible moment.

Parking is $11/day and includes in-and-out privileges. Teams traveling to the tournament in buses should contact the hotel in advance to discuss parking options.

As part of the contract negotiated by NAQT, the hotel will offer complimentary guest room Internet access to tournament participants and their families. This only applies to rooms booked using the NAQT group code.

Hilton Anatole
2201 North Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, TX 75207
Telephone: +1-214-748-1200
Fax: +1-214-761-7520

Food Options:

The hotel has a number of food outlets offering standard lunch and dinner options (there is also an expensive steakhouse). The hotel will have special "cash stands" in Atrium I and special "grab-and-go" items at its Counter Offer outlet in Atrium II to cater specifically to HSNCT attendees. In addition, NAQT and the Hilton Anatole have arranged for food trucks to be parked near the hotel's Jade, Chantilly, and Trinity entrances at times people are likely to be wanting food.

Airport Transportation:

Dallas Love Field (DAL) is by far the more convenient of the two Dallas-area airports to the Hilton Anatole. There are several ways teams can get from Love Field to the Hilton Anatole:

  • Taxi: The cab fare from Love Field to the Hilton Anatole is around $18, plus $2 per passenger. A typical team would probably need two taxis.
  • Uber: The estimated Uber fare is approximately $11 (for UberX up to 4 passengers) or $16 (for UberXL up to 6 passengers). Uber employs demand-based pricing, so these fares may change.
  • Public Transportation: Teams may take the 524 “Love Bus” shuttle from Love Field’s ground transportation area to the Inwood / Love Field station on Dallas’s DART rail system, then transfer to a Green Line (toward Buckner) or Orange Line (toward Parker Road or LBJ/Central) train two stations southeast to Market Center. The walk from Market Center station to the Hilton Anatole is approximately 3/4 mile (printable map). It is possible to summon a taxi or Uber vehicle to traverse this distance.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is the other airport choice for teams; traveling from DFW to the Hilton Anatole will take longer and cost more, but offers a greater variety of airline and destination options than Love Field. Teams have several options:

  • Public Transportation: Before leaving security, teams should take the SkyLink train to Terminal A (the northernmost station in A, between gates A13 and A16), then follow signs for DART trains to downtown Dallas. Teams may also take the TerminaLink busses outside security, but this takes somewhat longer. Once at the station, teams should take an Orange Line train (toward Parker Rd or LBJ/Central) ten stops southeast to Market Center station. The walk from Market Center station to the Hilton Anatole is approximately 3/4 mile (printable map). It is possible to summon a taxi or Uber vehicle to traverse this distance.
  • Taxi: The cab fare from DFW to the Hilton Anatole is around $37, plus $2 per passenger. A typical team would probably need two taxis.
  • Uber: The estimated Uber fare is approximately $25 (for UberX up to 4 passengers) or $40 (for UberXL up to 6 passengers). Uber employs demand-based pricing, so these fares may change.

Note that, in addition to the four light rail lines of DART, Dallas is served by the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) commuter rail line. While it’s possible to get from DFW to downtown Dallas by shuttle bus and TRE, teams planning to use public transportation at the HSNCT should almost certainly plan to use DART light rail, which is much more convenient for the purposes of the tournament.

Relationship to the SSNCT:

Small schools remain eligible and welcome to attend the HSNCT, but the HSNCT will no longer name a Top Small School as it did prior to 2014. The SSNCT and HSNCT will use different question sets, and a school that attends both will receive a $100 discount on its HSNCT registration fee.

Practice Questions:

Teams that have been invited to compete at the 2016 High School National Championship Tournament may be interested in purchasing the questions from previous years to prepare for the event. All 146 of NAQT’s past regular-season sets are available, as are the sets from all 17 past national championships.

Teams may also want to purchase frequency list or Power Up study guides from NAQT. These are also available on our practice questions page.

Finally, teams may wish to look at the information contained in NAQT’s free You Gotta Know articles before the tournament. These detail important topics in a wide variety of areas.


Registration fees and discounts are listed above. Make checks payable to “NAQT” and send them to Chad Kubicek, 11521 W 69th Street, Shawnee, KS 66203. If you wish to pay by credit card, call us at 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”).

Further Questions:

To ask specific questions about the HSNCT, please contact us…

  • by e-mail at hsnct@naqt.com
  • by phone at 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”)
  • by fax at 413‑473‑1617
  • by postal mail at:
    11521 W 69th Street
    Shawnee, KS 66203

We look forward to answering any and all questions, no matter how expansive or trivial, in the hopes of eliminating any possible confusion or mistakes in teams’ plans. If something’s not clear, let us know!