2020 High School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information
The 2020 High School National Championship Tournament, powered by LetterOne, will be held at the Hilton Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 22–24, 2020. The tournament will also partly take place at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, which is connected to the Hilton Atlanta by a short skybridge (and which hosted the 2017 through 2019 HSNCTs). NAQT has guest room blocks in both hotels.
The HSNCT is NAQT’s overall high school championship event. NAQT also runs a Small School National Championship Tournament for small high schools. Make sure you are looking at information for the proper tournament. (Qualified small schools are welcome to attend the HSNCT, even if they also attend the SSNCT!)
Registration is now open.
May 22–24, 2020 (Friday–Sunday). This is Memorial Day weekend.
Participants will check in on Friday, May 22 and have the opportunity to meet each other and play scrimmage matches on official NAQT questions. As an alternative to the scrimmage matches, teams may also participate in the ACRONYM popular culture tournament on Friday evening.
The tournament’s preliminary games will take place throughout Saturday and on Sunday morning, and its playoff games will take place on Sunday afternoon and evening. Teams may arrive earlier or stay later to explore Atlanta at the discounted hotel rates negotiated by NAQT. Teams that cannot arrive on Friday night will have a chance to check in on Saturday.
NAQT is thrilled to have LetterOne as the presenting sponsor of the 2020 HSNCT (as well as the 2020 ICT and the 2020 IPNCT). LetterOne is a partnership of successful entrepreneurs and former CEOs aiming to create one of the world’s pre-eminent international investment firms. LetterOne believes quiz bowl encourages the team-based, innovative thinking that is valuable to the next generation of business leaders in the face of a new industrial revolution in which social media, robotics, 3D manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and new trade corridors are altering the landscape.
The Hilton Atlanta hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Hilton contains many of the competition rooms; other competition rooms will be in the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, which is connected to the Hilton by a short skybridge.
This schedule is tentative.
|1:00 – 5:00 p.m.||Early Buzzer Bonus intake||TBD|
|5:00 p.m. (or upon arrival)||Staff check-in||TBD|
|5:00 – 11:00 p.m.||ACRONYM popular culture tournament||TBD|
|6:00 – 9:30 p.m.||Team check-in||TBD|
|6:00 – 10:00 p.m.||Scrimmage rounds (optional)||TBD|
Saturday: Morning Session
|7:00 – 8:00 a.m.||Late-arrival team check-in||TBD|
|7:30 – 8:45 a.m.||Staff check-in and meeting||TBD|
|8:00 – 8:30 a.m.||Opening meeting for players and coaches||Grand Ballroom||Hilton Second Floor|
|9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.||Morning Session (Rounds 1–7)||Throughout the hotels|
|1:30 – 3:00 p.m.||Lunch||On your own|
Saturday: Afternoon Session
|9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.||Late-arrival team check-in||Information Desk|
|2:00 – 2:30 p.m.||Players' and coaches' meeting||Grand Ballroom||Hilton Second Floor|
|3:00 – 7:30 p.m.||Afternoon Session (Rounds 8–14)||Throughout the hotels|
|8:00 – 11:30 a.m.||Last preliminary games (Rounds 15–20)||Throughout the hotels|
|11:00 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.||Consolation mini-tournament signup||Information Desk|
|11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.||Lunch||On your own|
|1:15 – 1:30 p.m.||Individual award ceremony and playoff bracket unveiling||Grand Ballroom||Hilton Second Floor|
|1:15 p.m.||Playoff/consolation staff check-in||TBD|
|1:30 p.m.||Playoff pairings posted||Information Desk|
|1:30 – 2:00 p.m.||Playoff card pickup||TBD|
|2:00 – 6:00 p.m.||Playoffs (Rounds 21–27)||Throughout the hotels|
|2:00 – 6:00 p.m.||Consolation rounds||TBD|
|6:00 – 7:00 p.m.||Dinner||On your own|
|7:00 – 8:15 p.m.||Playoffs (Rounds 28–29)||Throughout the hotels|
|7:00 – 9:30 p.m.||Buzzer Return||TBD|
|8:15 p.m.||Finals (one or two games)||Grand Ballroom||Hilton Second Floor|
|After finals||Awards||Grand Ballroom||Hilton Second Floor|
Teams will be assigned to either Saturday’s Morning Session or Afternoon Session of games. Each team will either play seven games between 9:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (and then have the afternoon off) or will play seven games between 3:00 and 7:30 p.m. (having had the morning off).
On Saturday, teams should be at their opening meeting by 7:55 a.m. if they are playing in the Morning Session and by 1:55 p.m. if they are playing in the Afternoon Session.
Frequently Asked Questions
NAQT has prepared answers to frequently asked questions about its national championships.
Starting Friday evening, NAQT will operate an Information Desk. The Information Desk should be the first destination for any questions about or issues with the tournament (other than protests, which must be lodged within the game room). NAQT will also be selling practice material at the Information Desk.
Participants may also text 213‑279‑6278 (“NAQT”) with questions if it is inconvenient for them to get to the Information Desk (standard messaging rates apply). Tournament staff will answer incoming messages as quickly as they can.
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, try to find lost teams, but it won’t be a quick process (and probably no quicker than just calling the chaperone directly). Make sure your players and chaperones have each others’ numbers in their phones before the tournament begins.
Rules and Eligibility
Registration is now open.
Teams who have not qualified as of Saturday, February 1, 2020 will be able to request a wildcard invitation (while also continuing to try to qualify automatically by their tournament performance).
Teams who don’t receive an invitation may attempt to participate in the tournament on a standby basis. Standby signup begins on Saturday, February 1, 2020. The order of standby teams who sign up in the first 24 hours will be randomized; standby teams who sign up after the first 24 hours will be added to the list in order of signup. Qualified teams may also attend on a standby basis. Standby teams are not guaranteed to participate; they are added to the field if replacement or additional teams are needed.
The field is limited to 320 teams; these teams have registered. NAQT may expand the field depending on the level of interest and the availability of facilities and staff.
The participating teams will be divided into two sessions (Morning and Afternoon) for the Saturday preliminary rounds. Those two groups of teams will compete separately on Saturday, but they will be merged for each team’s final three preliminary games on Sunday morning.
Teams are guaranteed exactly ten preliminary matches; seven of those will be played on Saturday (with each team competing either during the Morning Session or the Afternoon Session), and the final three will be played on Sunday morning.
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 7–3 or better in the preliminary games can lose once without being eliminated (and will be eliminated upon their second loss); teams that finished 6–4 in the preliminary games will be eliminated by a single loss.
Registration and Fees
Registration is now open.
The registration fee is $695 per team.
Registration will definitely close no later than May 15, but the field may fill earlier.
Team rosters may be changed at any time prior to the start of the tournament, and the players who attend need not be the same players who played on the team that qualified, 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 is decided or changes.
The field has historically filled. Receiving an invitation to the tournament does not guarantee a spot in the field, it merely allows your team to register for a spot if one is available. Once you have qualified, you should register as soon as you can to ensure your team a spot in the tournament. Last year, the field filled around April 6.
One week after the field first fills (and the waitlist starts), teams who withdraw from the tournament will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee as a cancellation penalty. In addition, regardless of the field status, teams who cancel on or after April 13 will be liable for 10% of the base registration fee; teams who cancel on or after May 1 will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee; and teams who cancel on or after May 17 will be liable for 75% of the base registration fee. Those deadlines notwithstanding, every team will have a one-week grace period from the date of registration, during which cancellation incurs no penalty.
The registration fee only covers participation in the tournament. It does not cover transportation, lodging, food, or other expenses.
Teams who bring a working buzzer 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.
Unless otherwise approved by NAQT, no team may receive more than two buzzer-system discounts.
NAQT will only award the discount for buzzer systems that it receives by 9:30 p.m. Friday and may keep until 7:00 p.m. Sunday; if these terms do not work for you, do not register to bring a buzzer system!
Early Buzzer Bonus
NAQT will pay a $20 cash “Early Buzzer Bonus” for each discount-receiving buzzer system dropped off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Friday. This is in addition to the discount mentioned above, is specifically for dropping it off during that time, and will only be paid in cash between those exact times.
NAQT will begin returning team-provided buzzer systems at 7:00 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 buzzer-system discounts (as their systems will not have been returned at that point). Buzzer return will stay open until 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. If a team knows in advance they will be unable to pick up their buzzer system in time, it should make special arrangements at check-in; barring other arrangements, unclaimed buzzer systems will be left with the hotel bell desk.
Teams attending both the HSNCT and the SSNCT will receive a $100 discount on their HSNCT entrance fee.
Teams may earn a discount by providing a staff member for each of the following time periods:
- Saturday Morning Session (rounds 1–7, 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)
- Saturday Afternoon Session (rounds 8–14, 3:00 – 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday morning preliminary games (rounds 15–20, 8:00 – 11:30 a.m.)
- Sunday afternoon playoff/consolation rounds (rounds 21–27, 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.)
The discount is $25 per person per time period.
Team-provided staff will not have a chance to watch their team’s matches. The transportation, lodging, and all other expenses of team-provided staff members will be borne by the team, not by NAQT. Teams that provide staff must still be chaperoned at all times; a chaperone cannot also be a member of tournament staff.
Team-provided staff may be assigned as scorekeepers, control room staff, scoresheet checkers, or other roles at NAQT’s discretion. They will be required to complete an online training course. In addition to those “trained” positions, NAQT needs a limited number of untrained “runners.” 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. All team-provided staff members are subject to NAQT’s approval.
Schools may also earn discounts on their HSNCT registration by providing staff members for some of NAQT’s other national championships—the Community College Championship Tournament, Intercollegiate Championship Tournament, Small School National Championship Tournament, and Middle School National Championship Tournament—according to our cross-tournament discount program. The CCCT’s location has not yet been determined, while the other three events will be held in Chicago.
The last day for a team to declare that it is bringing a staff member is April 18. Team-provided staff members suggested after that date may be accepted or rejected at NAQT’s discretion.
Teams that cancel a staff member (of any kind) on or after April 19 will not only forfeit the discount, but will be charged a $100 penalty to offset NAQT’s cost for finding a last-minute replacement.
Once you have entered all the information that can affect costs (but not necessarily entered your roster), at the bottom of your registration page or the field page (while you’re logged in), click “View Cost.” Verify that the listed information is correct. If it is, follow the page’s instructions to request an invoice (so we have the proper billing information), and you will be offered the opportunity to pay by credit card. If the information is not correct, write to email@example.com with the details.
You can also pay by sending a check, payable to “NAQT,” to
National Academic Quiz Tournaments
11521 W 69th Street
Shawnee, KS 66203
Every participant’s parent or legal guardian will be required to sign a participation release covering expectations, media coverage, etc. All players’ releases must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, May 15, 2020. Releases will be made available via the registration process.
If you’re not sure of your roster in advance, enter everyone who might play and submit releases for all of them. It’s fine to drop players, but if a player’s release is not submitted on time, they may not play. For the purposes of participation releases, it doesn’t matter which team from your school they’re on (if you enter multiple teams).
An example participation release is available.
Every team must have a chaperone, subject to the following rules:
- The chaperone must be a legal adult.
- The chaperone must be reachable by text message (at a number provided to NAQT) throughout the tournament, to the maximum extent possible given availability of cellular networks.
- The chaperone must be with the team at most times during the tournament, traveling, and downtime. If the chaperone is not with the team, NAQT is not obligated to contact the chaperone in situations short of an emergency. In particular, NAQT will not contact absent chaperones regarding protests.
- The chaperone must always be near enough to the team to (physically) reach them in less than ten minutes.
- The chaperone may also be the chaperone for other teams at the tournament, thus potentially reducing their regular proximity to the team (but without nullifying any of these requirements).
Teams who wish to request a variance from the chaperone policy should contact NAQT at email@example.com well in advance of the tournament to discuss their situation.
There will be two sessions of play on Saturday. Each team will play in one session and not play in the other session. During the session they do not play in, teams may sightsee, watch games, rest, or do whatever else they wish.
Each team will be assigned to either the Morning or Afternoon Session on Saturday; this determines whether it plays its first seven preliminary games in the morning (9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) or the afternoon (3:00 – 7:30 p.m.). The two groups will be merged for each team’s final three preliminary games on Sunday morning.
Each team may request a specific session when it registers, but these assignments are not guaranteed. NAQT does make the following guarantees:
- NAQT will guarantee the first 100 session requests.
- NAQT will make a good-faith effort to honor all requests (with priority going to teams with earlier requests).
- If a school wants all of its teams in the same session, NAQT will guarantee that (though it might not be the school’s preferred session).
- If a school wants its teams evenly distributed between the sessions, NAQT will guarantee that (though not necessarily which teams end up in each session).
- NAQT will confirm all teams’ session assignments no later than May 14.
The primary check-in period will be from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, May 22. During this period NAQT will be distributing information folders, answering questions, receiving payments, and taking care of other administrative matters. There are “late” check-in periods on Saturday, but NAQT would prefer that as many teams as possible check in on Friday night.
To check in, each team should send one coach or chaperone to the check-in area. That person will be given the team’s information folder.
In past years there has been a long line just after check-in opens, so we encourage teams to keep an eye on the line and send one person to check in when the line is short. There is no need to check in immediately. In particular, it is not necessary to check in before playing scrimmage rounds.
Remember that NAQT is paying an additional Early Buzzer Bonus of $20 for buzzer systems that are dropped off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Friday. Regardless of when you choose to check in, please consider dropping off your systems during this time period to earn extra money and to help us make sure we have everything ready in time.
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. if they are in the Morning Session. Teams in the Afternoon Session may check in between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at the Information Desk. Teams that checked in on Friday do not need to check in again on Saturday.
Between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. on Friday night, game rooms will be set up for teams to scrimmage against each other on questions from previous championships and/or the regular season. 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.
A team does not need to have checked in to be allowed to scrimmage.
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 to 15 minutes, but it is possible that there could be a 30-to-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.
Teams new to the tournament will be guaranteed three scrimmage games, and other teams will be guaranteed a single scrimmage match. For this purpose, a “new” team is one whose school has never attended the tournament before or that last attended in 2015 or earlier. Additional games will be allocated based on availability.
The exact list of trophies and awards has not yet been announced, but it will be similar to the list from last year, when the top 48 teams received team trophies and the top 40 All-Stars received individual awards.
Teams who do not qualify for the playoffs are encouraged to return after lunch on Sunday to play consolation games on the playoff questions. These consolation rounds will be moderated by tournament staff. All players, even alternates or observers, are welcome to take part, and if both teams are amenable, other people such as coaches and spectators may also play. Teams who qualify for the playoffs may also join the consolation rounds once they have been eliminated.
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 mini-tournaments at the Information Desk as soon as Round 19 ends (roughly 11:00 a.m.). Teams will only have about two hours to sign up (and spots in the tournaments 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 immediately after their final preliminary game. Teams in mini-tournaments should arrive at the consolation desk by 1:55 p.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. Teams that only want to play one or two additional games should choose 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 consolation desk after the mini-tournaments have been launched. Teams interested in ad hoc matches should show up by 1:55 p.m.
If rooms, buzzers, or staff run short, mini-tournaments will be given priority over ad hoc matches.
The consolation rounds (of either type) have no effect on a team’s final rank in the tournament. They are played solely for fun.
ACRONYM Popular Culture Side Event
NAQT has arranged with Erik Nelson of Play Quiz Bowl to host a mirror of its ACRONYM popular culture tournament as a “side event” on Friday 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 staff (assuming they haven’t played the ACRONYM 12 question set at a prior tournament!). People affiliated with schools may mix-and-match to form chimera teams. There is a separate registration fee ($100) 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).
The tournament will have two divisions, one for teams composed entirely of high schoolers and another that is open to all competitors (of any age).
Participants should fly into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (airport code ATL).
The hotels do not operate a shuttle to or from the airport.
NAQT recommends that participants take the MARTA train to reach the tournament. It is safe and convenient; there are also taxi and shuttle options, but MARTA will probably be the easiest and cheapest way to travel. It is approximately a 20-minute trip.
Taking the MARTA train costs $5 per person round trip (plus $2 per person for a reusable Breeze Card). To reach the Marriott Marquis, take a northbound Red Line or Gold Line train (it doesn’t matter which one) from the airport to Peachtree Center Station (one stop north of the Five Points transfer station). After getting off the train, take the escalator labeled “John Portman Blvd.” to the mezzanine, then follow the signs to “Peachtree Street East” after walking through the fare gate. At street level, turn right (north) on Peachtree Street then right (east) on John Portman Boulevard. The hotel is one block down at the intersection of John Portman Boulevard and Peachtree Center Avenue. Here is a map of the walking directions. Between roughly 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., you can also walk through the Peachtree Center mall and cross the skyway to the Marriott Marquis. The Hilton is through a further walkway after crossing the Marriott Marquis.
The Hilton Atlanta’s address is 255 Courtland Street Northeast, Atlanta, Georgia.
The Atlanta Marriott Marquis’s address is 265 Peachtree Center Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, Georgia.
Parking standard vehicles at the Hilton Atlanta is $27/day (without in-and-out privileges) for overnight guests who book in NAQT’s block; it is $32/day (without in-and-out privileges) for people not staying at the hotel.
Parking standard vehicles at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis is $16/day, including in-and-out privileges. The hotel only offers valet parking, so participants should be prepared to hand over their keys in exchange for a valet ticket when they reach the hotel. The details of how to park will be posted here when they are ready.
Groups with large vehicles (vans, buses) should contact their hotel to discuss options for parking. They will likely have to park off-site.
Despite the in-and-out privileges at the Marriott, retrieving cars will be rather slow. Participants are encouraged to explore the Atlanta area, but also to plan for delays in retrieving their vehicles.
The official hotels for the tournament are the Hilton Atlanta and the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Quadruple-occupancy rooms (with two double beds) are available for $119 per night. The last day to reserve rooms at this special price is May 7. Note that there are several hotels with similar names in the Atlanta area; make sure you are reserving rooms at one of the correct, downtown hotels!
There is little difference between the hotels’ accommodations; teams should book in either.
The link for making reservations online will be posted here when it is available.
Between the HSNCT and the other events scheduled to be held at the hotels, it is expected that the hotels will run out of rooms. NAQT strongly recommends that teams book their rooms as early as possible, particularly if they want quadruple-occupancy rooms (with two double beds).
As part of the contract negotiated by NAQT, the hotels will offer complimentary guest room Internet access to tournament participants and their families. This only applies to rooms booked using the NAQT group codes.
The standard checkout time at both hotels is 11:00 a.m. Teams that are not staying Sunday night should make sure to check out of their rooms before their Sunday-morning preliminary games.
The hotel is connected by skyway to a 60-restaurant food court at Peachtree Center that offers a variety of affordable meals (sandwiches, Thai, pizza, Chinese, cheesesteaks, etc.). There are also restaurants in the hotel itself, and more within walking distance, that should satisfy any combination of appetite and price range.
Because NAQT believes that quiz bowl is an activity for everybody, and in which all participants should feel welcome and respected, we have established the Advocate Program to make sure tournament staff are available to hear reports about problematic behavior and comments by anyone at the tournament.
Staff wearing blue ribbons that say “Advocate” have been specifically selected to receive reports about inappropriate behavior (as opposed to run-of-the-mill questions about the quiz bowl aspects of the tournament). At least one such staff member will generally be available at the Information Desk during tournament hours; if no such person is available (e.g., due to being on a break), the other Information Desk staff can be asked to have a senior tournament official come to the Information Desk to hear the report. Additional Advocate Program staff will be available in many places around the tournament site.
Feedback about problematic behavior can, of course, always be sent to NAQT by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or other channels such as the Misconduct Reporting Form, but the Advocate Program is intended to allow for in-person reporting of sensitive complaints on-site so they can be handled immediately.
Reports are confidential to the extent permitted by law and NAQT’s agreements to share critical information with other quiz bowl organizations.
Participants may be interested in purchasing questions from previous years to prepare for the event. All of NAQT’s past regular-season sets are available, as are the sets from previous championships.
Finally, participants may want to look at the information contained in NAQT’s free You Gotta Know articles before the tournament. These detail the most frequently asked-about question topics in a wide variety of areas.
Spectators are welcome to attend any and all parts of the tournament. No registration or tickets are required.
The hotel is downtown and within walking distance (10–15 minutes) of many of Atlanta’s major attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium, the High Museum, Centennial Olympic Park, and the World of Coca-Cola.
Companion Mobile App
NAQT has created a companion mobile app for attendees. The app includes the tournament schedule (with the ability to set reminders for various events), links to results, maps of the venue, help reaching the Information Desk, connections to social media, and other important documents related to the tournament.
Relationship to the SSNCT
Small schools are eligible and welcome to attend the HSNCT (if qualified), regardless of whether they attend the Small School National Championship Tournament. 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.
To ask specific questions about the HSNCT, e-mail email@example.com.
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 participants’ plans. If something’s not clear, let us know!