2010-11 Minnesota High School Quiz Bowl League

[ North Division | East Division | South Division | West Division | Staff | Standings ]

The 40th season (at least; our old records are somewhat incomplete) of the Minnesota High School Quiz Bowl (MNHSQB) league will begin November 4, 2010, and continue through February 10, 2011. Playoffs will be held two weeks later, on February 17, 2011.

Last year's results, including a playoff bracket and complete team and individual statistics may be found online.

Quiz Bowl:

Quiz bowl is a competitive activity in which two, four-person teams score points by answering questions more quickly than the other. This particular league is for high school teams in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, but quiz bowl is played throughout the U.S. (and, increasingly, the English-speaking world) by players of all ages (from elementary school on up to masters). The questions reflect the knowledge that educated people should have about the world and are drawn from academic curricula, current affairs, and popular culture.

Basic Structure:

Schools register one or more teams at the beginning of the year. The field is divided into four pools (also called divisions) of roughly equal size; teams may choose which of the four pools is most convenient for them. Over the course of the year, each team will play twelve games against other members of its pool. Each team will play four of those games on each of three Thursday nights designated in advance. Games begin in late October of each year and continue until the middle of February with breaks for the major holidays. After the regular season is complete, the top teams from each division advance to single-elimination playoffs for the title.

Each division plays its games on different Thursdays; teams are assigned to pools based on the dates their coaches and players are available, their physical location, and the need of the tournament director to balance the sizes of the pools.


This league will be run according to NAQT's High School Eligibility Rules. Essentially, all high schools (public, private, magnet, charter, religious, etc.) are eligible to compete in this event and no prior qualification is necessary. Teams from home school collectives are also welcome. If you have a special situation, feel free to e-mail the eligibility committee in advance for a ruling.

There is no formal geographic requirement for participation; outstate schools and even schools from different states are welcome if they can make the scheduled games.


If you would like to participate in the 2010-11 season, please e-mail R. Robert Hentzel.

If you're interested in competing in quiz bowl but did not get into the league in time, the Minnesota Quiz Bowl Alliance (of which MNHSQB is a member organization), hosts single-day Saturday tournaments throughout the year. Those Saturday tournaments are also open, of course, to schools that do participate in the league.


The 2009-10 season saw 100 teams from 38 schools participate; we hope for a similar level of participation this year.


Competition will take place in four divisions.

The four pools of play will occur on:

Division Host School Competition Dates Qualifiers
Pool I (North) Armstrong High School 12/2, 1/13, 2/10 TBD
Pool II (West) Eden Prairie High School 11/04, 12/9, 1/20 Eden Prairie
St. Louis Park
Pool III (South) Burnsville Senior High School 11/11, 12/16, 1/27 Chanhassen
River Falls
Pool IV (East) Roseville Area High School 11/18, 1/6, 2/3 St. Paul Central
St. Thomas Academy
St. Anthony Village

The original night of games in the North Division was to have been October 28, but a power failure at Armstrong High School caused a cancellation. Those games have been rescheduled for February 10, 2011.


The cost of a school's first team is $300. The cost of each subsequent team is $150. Checks should be made out to "MNHSQB." Teams may either bring their check to their first night of competition or mail it to:

R. Robert Hentzel
10333 Oak Grove Cir.
Bloomington, MN 55431

Note that this address has changed (as of October 15, 2010) since league director Robert Hentzel moved to a new house.


Each game will include 18 minutes of competition time broken into four phases.

The first "warm-up" phase consists of short tossup questions worth 10 points each with no bonuses.

The second phase will have longer tossups that are worth 10 points each (or 15 for a very quick answer) and which, if answered correctly, earn the team a chance at a bonus question worth 30 points. Players must answer tossups individually, but teams are encouraged to consult on bonuses. The first and second phases together will be allotted 9 minutes with no stoppage of gameplay between them.

The third phase will consist of lightning round questions. The team with the lower score will choose from three topics and then have one minute to answer as many of the ten parts of the lightning round as possible. After that has been completed, the other team will have a chance to convert any parts that the first team missed (in 30 seconds). Then the second team will choose from among the remaining two topics and repeat the process.

The fourth phase will last 6 minutes and will consist of tossup and bonus questions, just like the second phase.

A sample packet is available for perusal.

Unlike standard NAQT rules, there is no penalty for interrupting a question before it has been completely read.

Team Composition:

Schools may form each night's teams from any combination of eligible players. On any given night, a player may compete for only a single team (e.g., West High School A), but that player may compete for a different team on the next night of competition.

A team may have more than four players, but only four may compete at one time. Teams with more than four players may substitute before or after the lightning round, before overtime, or during a time out. If a school anticipates commonly having three or four extra players, it may want to consider entering multiple teams; nearly all schools choose to do so, and additional teams are cheaper than the first.


The top four teams from each division by win-loss record will advance to the playoffs. If teams are tied for fourth place, a tiebreaker round consisting entirely of short tossup questions will be used to determine which advance. If teams are tied within the top four, the ordering will be determined on the basis of points scored per tossup heard over the course of the entire regular season.

No more than one team from each school will qualify for the playoffs; only the top-finishing team from each school will be considered when playoff berths are allocated. If one or more tiebreakers are necessary to determine the playoff teams from a division, multiple teams from the same school may participate in those tiebreakers if their record qualifies them to do so.

The teams will be seeded into this single-elimination playoff bracket.

The playoffs will take place February 17, 2011, at Burnsville High School. They will begin at 6:00 p.m. and end at approximately 10:00 p.m. Teams may leave after they have been eliminated.


All 16 of the playoff teams will qualify to attend the 2011 NAQT High School National Championship (HSNCT) in Atlanta. In addition, MNHSQB will pay the registration fees (up to $575) for the top two teams to attend a quiz bowl national championship of their choice.

In addition to earning the chance to compete at the national level, the playoff teams will each receive a team trophy. The members of the winning team will receive individual trophies, and the top ten scorers, top sophomore scorer, and top freshman scorer from each division will receive individual trophies. Players who receive top scorer trophies are not eligible for top sophomore or top freshman trophies. Scoring awards will be determined by points-per-tossup-heard with a minimum of 160 tossups heard. All players, even those on schools' second teams, are eligible for the individual awards.

Taping and Broadcast:

Thanks to the generosity of Burnsville Community Television, some of the games played in the South Division (at Burnsville High School) will be taped for later broadcast. Coaches will also receive DVDs of the games in which their team(s) participated.

Every school competing in the Southern Division is guaranteed that its first team will be televised at least once.

Some of the playoff games (including both semifinals and the final) will also be taped. Participating students will be asked to sign a broadcast waiver.

Slightly different rules will be in effect for televised rounds (e.g., how protests are handled, when substitutions are allowed, etc.) These will be codified and announced before the first game is taped.


The pairings for each division's first night of competition (i.e., first four games) will be seeded by the league organizers to give each team an approximately equivalent schedule. The pairings for the second and third nights will be determined on a power-matching basis so that each team will play four others of about the same strength, hopefully two with slightly better records and two with slightly worse.

As a general rule, teams will not play the same team twice during the regular season nor will they play against other teams from the same school. There are two exceptions to this: First, if a school enters a large number of teams (more than five), the league organizer reserves the right to have "E" (and lower) teams play against each other to make scheduling easier. Second, if there is a forfeited game and the scheduling algorithm suggests the same pairing again, it will be allowed (since the teams didn't actually play the first time).

Game Night Schedule:

Games will begin at 6:00 p.m. and last until approximately 9:00 p.m. Each site will have a central location where teams can gather before matches begin to practice, eat dinner, or converse. Teams should arrive by 5:45 so that they have a chance to hear any last-minute announcements before gameplay commences. Teams that have not arrived before 6:15 p.m. will forfeit their matches until they arrrive.


There is no requirement that schools own any particular equipment (namely, a quiz bowl-compatible lockout system or "buzzer") to participate in the league, but there is an informal expectation that programs that have been around for at least two years will purchase a lockout system, maintain it in working order, and bring it to the matches. MNSHQB itself owns a number of systems, but not enough to run the entire league. If not enough teams bring buzzers, one or more rooms will be forced to play "slap bowl," which is neither fair nor fun!


The matches are moderated by MNHSQB staff, former players, and current college players from various schools around the Twin Cities. There is no requirement that coaches or other high school staff assist with the running of the event. Coaches may follow their teams the entire night; alternatively, they may spend the time grading or catching up on other work.


Spectators are welcome to watch any of the games at any of the sites. No prior communication is necessary; just show up!

Question Security:

This tournament will use questions provided by National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC. We are using a custom set derived from Invitational Series #99A and have purchased geographic exclusivity for Minnesota. It is the responsibility of participating teams to make sure that they have not attended (and do not plan to attend) another tournament anywhere in the country that is using the same packet set. Teams can find explanations of geographic exclusivity and their responsibility in maintaining question security on NAQT's website. Teams can also look up the sets assigned to past and future tournaments. Teams with questions about exclusivity or security should contact NAQT at naqt@naqt.com.

The short version: If you never leave the state to play quiz bowl, you have nothing to worry about. If you do, e-mail Robert Hentzel and he'll let you know if you have anything to worry about.

Preparing for the Tournament:

Teams that are completely new to quiz bowl and/or NAQT questions may be interested in purchasing NAQT's New High School Package and in reading its online article about starting a new high school team.

Teams may be interested in checking out the free You Gotta Know articles that give brief overviews of answers that come up very frequently (for example, "You gotta know these French kings."). They may also be interested in frequency list study guides, which were NAQT's best-selling preparatory material last year.

If you would like to purchase practice material to prepare for the league, please contact Robert Hentzel for advice on which questions would be most appropriate for your team. In particular, the entire set of 18 rounds from the 2009-10 season is available for $40.


The league's policies and long-term planning are directed by its board of directors, a five-person panel consisting of former players, coaches, and league organizers.

Further Questions:

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact R. Robert Hentzel by e-mail or phone (952.888.2277). Running quiz bowl tournaments and writing questions is his full-time job and there's very little that he enjoys discussing more...

Created 2010 October 6 by R. Robert Hentzel