2021 Middle School Individual Player National Championship Tournament Logistics Information

The 2021 Middle School Individual Player National Championship Tournament (MS IPNCT) will be held online on April 25, 2021.

The MS IPNCT is NAQT’s championship tournament for individual middle school players. There is also the team-based Middle School National Championship Tournament on May 1–2 as well as a High School IPNCT on Sunday, April 11.

Registration has closed.



    April 25, 2021 (Sunday). This is the same weekend (and, in large part, questions) as NAQT’s 2021 Small School National Championship Tournament, but the MS IPNCT is a completely separate event; no player may play both.


    Online, via Zoom and in accordance with the rest of NAQT’s Online Tournament Guide.

    To promote confidence in the integrity of online competition, NAQT has established an Integrity Policy for Online National Championships that establishes requirements for players while they are active. All players and coaches should read the policy, and all players should be prepared to comply with it during gameplay.

    Technical Requirements

    Players should read and must follow the rules and procedures in NAQT’s Online Tournament Guide. This includes, but is not limited to, the requirements that players must…

    Furthermore, we very strongly recommend that players…

    In addition to the requirements of the Online Tournament Guide, for this tournament:


    This schedule is final.

    All times are listed in Central time.

    Time Event
    8:15 – 8:50 a.m. Staff meeting
    8:30 – 8:50 a.m. Player meeting
    8:55 a.m. Be in your Round 1 Zoom room
    9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Rounds 1–3
    12:15 – 1:15 p.m. Lunch
    1:15 – 5:00 p.m. Rounds 4–6
    5:00 p.m. (may be adjusted) Finals

    Gameplay Rules

    The tournament will use NAQT’s standard rules with the IPNCT modifications and the online play modifications. In brief:


    The tournament is open to all players eligible to compete for their school (or homeschool) team according to NAQT’s Middle School Eligibility Rules.


    There is no qualification procedure for the Middle School Individual Player National Championship Tournament. NAQT welcomes all players who want to see how their knowledge stacks up against the very best.


    The field is limited to 60 players; these players have registered.


    The tournament will consist entirely of group matches, in which up to ten players compete in each room. (Unlike in previous years, there will be no head-to-head matches.) There are special gameplay rules for group matches (in addition to the rules modifications for online play).

    All players will compete in Rounds 1–6. The top eight players from those matches will advance to the finals (Round 7).

    Within each game, players will be ranked by the order in which they buzz out (by reaching a specified score), or if they do not buzz out, by other criteria, starting with points earned in that game. The threshold to buzz out is 60 points in Round 1 and 90 points in subsequent rounds (except the finals).

    Round 1: 44 tossups
    The players will be seeded and placed into game rooms of balanced strength.
    Round 2: 66 tossups
    The game rooms will be balanced in strength based on players’ Round 1 performances.
    Round 3: 66 tossups
    The game rooms will not be balanced in strength so as to make finer distinctions between players with similar performances thus far.
    Lunch is after Round 3.
    Rounds 4–6: details to be announced when the field size is finalized
    Round 7: 72 tossups (finals)
    At this point, eight players remain in contention for the championship and will play in a single game. There is no buzzing out.
    After 24 tossups, the player with the lowest score will be eliminated. Every 8 tossups after this, the remaining player with the lowest score will be eliminated.
    If there is a tie for the lowest-scoring player, the standard statistical tiebreakers will be used, with two exceptions:
    • If there is a tie at or below 0 points that is not resolved by Rules B.6.b.i–B.6.b.iv, both/all players involved in the tie will be eliminated, and the next player elimination(s) will be skipped until the number of players remaining in the game matches what it would have been if that tie had not occurred.
    • If after 72 tossups there is a tie, standard gameplay tiebreakers will be used (three tossups, followed by sudden death if the tie remains).

    The eight players in the finals will be ranked by their performance in that game. The 22 other players who made the semifinals will be ranked (starting at #9) based on their rank within their semifinal games, so there will be four-way ties for most of those positions. The 18 players who were eliminated from contention in Round 6 will be ranked (starting at #31) by their order of finish within their Round 6 games. The 28 players in the four upper-tier rooms in Round 6 will be ranked (starting at #49) by their rank within their Round 6 games. The 36 players in the four lower-tier rooms in Round 6 will be ranked (starting at #77) by their rank within their Round 6 games.

    The IPNCT format is based on the Hillemann Singles Format pioneered by NAQT Member Emeritus Eric Hillemann in 1997.

    Registration and Fees

    Registration has closed.

    The registration fee is $220 per player.

    The registration fee only covers participation in the tournament. It does not cover equipment or other expenses.


    Players who cancel their registration on or before April 25 will owe a cancellation fee of $220. This deadline notwithstanding, players will always have a seven-day grace period after registering (or being promoted from the waitlist) during which they can cancel without incurring a fee.

    Failure to submit the participation release on time may be treated as a cancellation, including incurring a cancellation fee, at NAQT’s discretion.


    Once you have finished registering, click “View Cost.” 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 billing@naqt.com with the details.

    You can also pay by sending a check, payable to “NAQT,” to

    National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC
    11521 W 69th St
    Shawnee, KS 66203–3749

    Spots in the field are not guaranteed until payment is received.


    The tournament will use the tossups from the Small School National Championship Tournament question set, plus perhaps additional (newly written) tossups. No bonuses will be used at this tournament. This is also similar in difficulty to the questions used for the playoff rounds at the 2019 Middle School National Championship Tournament. Players may wish to see a sample of a previous year’s SSNCT questions to familiarize themselves with the difficulty level.

    Because of the use of the same questions, players whose school is playing in the SSNCT may not play the MS IPNCT.

    Participation Releases

    Every player’s parent or legal guardian will be required to sign a participation release covering expectations, media coverage, etc. All releases must be submitted to release@naqt.com by Sunday, April 18, 2021. Release forms will be made available via the registration process.

    Please be sure that the signer initials the first page in the lower-right corner!

    An example participation release is available.


    Every player must have a chaperone, subject to the following rules:

    Players who wish to request a variance from the chaperone policy should write to NAQT at ipnct@naqt.com well in advance of the tournament to discuss their situation.


    All players who have not been eliminated after the end of the first six group rounds will receive plaques. The top players in each subject area (history, literature, etc.) will also receive plaques.

    Each plaque will be personalized with the name of the player and have a list of their overall finish and top subject performances. These plaques will be ordered by NAQT following the tournament and shipped to the players who earned them.

    Advocate Program

    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 select tournament staff are available to hear reports about problematic behavior and comments by anyone at the tournament.

    Please send concerns to advocate@naqt.com, ideally as soon as practical after any incident.

    There are other suitable channels for reporting concerns, such as the Misconduct Reporting Form, but the Advocate Program is intended to allow for immediate reporting of sensitive complaints so they can be handled during the tournament.

    Reports are confidential to the extent permitted by law and NAQT’s agreements to share critical information with other quiz bowl organizations.

    Practice Material

    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.

    Participants may also want to purchase frequency lists, Power Up study guides, and/or Thumbs Up! question anthologies. These are also available on our practice materials page.

    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.

    Prospective spectators should read NAQT’s advice for spectators of online tournaments. To ensure the quality of the tournament experience for players, spectators may be removed from games if they are disruptive or if the moderator believes that their presence is degrading audio or video quality.

    Social Media

    The official hashtag for the tournament is ipnct; please use this tag for all posts about the tournament.

    Remember that question content for the championship cannot be posted online (or shared through other channels)! This means that players, coaches, spectators, and moderators should not discuss clues, answers, or even overall themes (e.g., “Lots of opera”) with anyone else at all.

    NAQT Nationals app logo

    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, connections to social media, and other important documents related to the tournament.

    Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play

    Further Questions

    To ask specific questions about the MS IPNCT, write to ipnct@naqt.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!