2018 Middle School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information

The 2018 Middle School National Championship Tournament will be held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel in Rosemont, IL, on May 11–13, 2018.

Registration has closed.


May 11–13, 2018 (Friday to Sunday).

Teams will check in on Friday, May 11, and have the opportunity to meet each other and play practice matches on official NAQT questions from previous years. The tournament’s preliminary games will take place on Saturday, and the playoff games will take place on Sunday. Teams may arrive earlier than Friday, or stay later than Sunday, to explore Chicago at the discounted hotel rates negotiated by NAQT. Teams that cannot arrive by Friday evening will have a chance to check in on Saturday morning if they notify NAQT of the situation in advance.


The Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel in Rosemont, IL. This building contains all of the competition rooms and is also the primary hotel at which teams should stay. An online floor plan (PDF) is available.

There is an additional block of guest rooms at the official overflow hotel, the Crowne Plaza.


This schedule was last updated on May 7 and is final.

Friday (evening)

1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Early Buzzer Bonus intake Conference Center Lobby Level
5:00 – 9:30 p.m. Staff check-in L.A.X. B Entry Level
6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Team check-in Conference Center Lobby Level
6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Scrimmage round organization Conference Center Entry Level


8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Late arrival team check-in Grand Ballroom Registration Desk Entry Level
9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Player meeting Grand Ballroom ABCD Entry Level
8:30 a.m. Secondary staff check-in Rosemont Ballroom C Entry Level
9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Staff meeting Rosemont Ballroom C Entry Level
9:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Preliminary rounds 1–6 Throughout the hotel
12:45 – 2:15 p.m. Lunch Not provided  
2:15 – 6:15 p.m. Preliminary rounds 7–13 Throughout the hotel
5:30 – morning Consolation mini-tournament sign-up Information Desk Lobby Level Atrium


7:00 a.m. Playoff bracket posted Information Desk Lobby Level Atrium
7:00 – 8:15 a.m. Playoff cards distributed Information Desk Lobby Level Atrium
8:00 – 8:15 a.m. Staff meeting Rosemont Ballroom Entry Level
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon Playoff rounds 14–19 Throughout the hotel
8:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Consolation rounds Conference Center Lobby Level
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch Not provided  
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Buzzer return Grand Ballroom Registration Desk Entry Level
1:00 – 2:45 p.m. Playoff rounds 20–22 Ballrooms
2:45 p.m. Finals (round 23 and maybe 24) Grand Ballroom ABCD Entry Level
After finals Awards Grand Ballroom ABCD Entry Level
After finals until 5:00 p.m. Packet set distribution Grand Ballroom Registration Desk Entry Level

On Saturday morning teams should be in the Grand Ballroom (section ABCD) by 8:55 a.m. Moderators and other staff (including team-provided staffers) should go to the Rosemont Ballroom (section C) by 8:55 a.m. for the staff meeting. Staff members who weren't able to check in on Friday night, should be in Rosemont C by 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

A printable Time-and-Place Guide is also available.

Frequently Asked Questions

NAQT has prepared answers to frequently asked questions about its national championships.

Information Desk

NAQT will be operating an Information Desk throughout the tournament in the hotel atrium on the Lobby Level. The Information Desk should be the first place teams go with any questions about the tournament. NAQT will also be selling practice material and tournament T-shirts at the Information Desk.

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 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).

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. This number is only for text messages, not calls. Call 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”) to speak to a member of tournament staff.


Schools qualify to send teams to the MSNCT through their performance at NAQT invitational events and other selected events held throughout the year.

Registration has closed.


The field for the tournament is limited to 192 teams.

Registration has opened; the current field is listed here.


Teams will play exactly eight 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 (5–3 or better) will advance to double-elimination playoffs on Sunday.

A total of thirteen rounds will be played on Saturday, so each team will have exactly five byes. Either ten or eleven rounds will be played on Sunday, depending on whether the champion finishes with a playoff loss or not.

The Sunday playoff bracket will be posted by 7:00 a.m. at the Information Desk and on the NAQT website.

Both the Saturday and Sunday matches will be implemented using a “card system.” You can preview the 2018 MSNCT Format Guide for more details about the card system.

Rules and Eligibility

This tournament will use NAQT’s Official Rules and Middle School Eligibility Rules.

Registration & Fees

Registration has closed.

The registration fee is $580 per team if payment is received on or before April 13. The fee is $600 per team on or after April 14. Schools whose first qualifying event occurred after March 1 have until April 20 to register at the lower rate. No teams may register after May 9, but the field may fill earlier.

Please note that 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 your team has qualified, it should register as soon as it can to ensure a berth in the tournament.

The field first filled on March 12, 2018; beginning one week thereafter (March 19, 2018), teams that withdraw from the tournament will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee as a cancellation penalty. Furthermore, teams that cancel on or after May 1 will be liable for 75% of the base registration fee as a cancellation penalty. These deadlines nonwithstanding, every team will have a one-week grace period from the day on which it begins its registration, during which it may cancel with no penalty.

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

Buzzer Discounts

Teams bringing 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. If you plan to bring a buzzer system, please read that policy carefully in advance. Each team may claim up to two such discounts. NAQT will only award the discount for buzzer systems that it can keep from check-in until 1:00 p.m. on 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.

Early Buzzer Bonus

NAQT will pay a $20 cash “Early Buzzer Bonus” for every buzzer system dropped off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Friday. A team can thus get a total of $40 for each of its buzzers ($20 registration discount and $20 cash Early Buzzer Bonus) by listing it/them and dropping it/them off between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday. The bonus will be paid immediately to whomever drops the buzzer off. Tournament staff will be in the Lobby Level Conference Center (the same place as check-in will be on Friday evening) during these hours to collect buzzers and pay the bonus. Early Buzzer Bonus payments will stop at 5:00 p.m. sharp.

Team Staff

Teams may supply one or more qualified staff members for the tournament to earn discounts on their registration fees. Teams will receive a $50 discount for each staff member on Saturday and a $50 discount for each staff member on Sunday (for a total of $100 if the staff member works both days). Team-provided staff 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-provided staff members 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.

All team-provided staff members other than runners must complete online training to receive the discount.

Teams cannot “split” a single staff discount across two people: Each daily staff discount must be earned by a single staff member. (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 staff member to the MSNCT is April 13. 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 14 will not only forfeit the discount, but will be charged a $100 penalty to offset NAQT’s cost for finding a last-minute replacement.

Cross-Tournament Discounts

In addition to earning discounts by bringing staff to the MSNCT itself, schools may earn discounts on their MSNCT registration by providing staff for any of three of NAQT’s other national championships—the CCCT, the ICT, and the SSNCT—according to our cross-tournament discount program. All three of these tournaments are taking place in Chicago in 2018.

The registration fee includes the right for each team to pick up a copy of the competition set to use as practice material in future years. Teams can pick up their copies of the competition set after the finals have finished from the Grand Ballroom Registration Desk. This is the same place from which team buzzers will be returned. Note that packet sets (even partial sets) will not be handed out prior to the conclusion of the finals. NAQT hopes that most teams will stay to watch the finals and pick up their questions afterward, but it will mail copies of the set (at no extra charge) to teams that are unable to pick them up on-site. Teams that pick up the questions at the tournament will receive them in a three-ring binder; questions sent after the event will likely not include a binder.

Team rosters may be changed at any time prior to the start of the MSNCT, 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.

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. in the Lobby Level Conference Center on Friday, May 11. 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 p.m. In past years there has been a long line just after the check-in desk opens, so we encourage chaperones to glance at the line every 20 to 30 minutes and to come (without their team!) to check in when it is short. There is no need 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, eating 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 buzzer 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 time period to earn extra money and to help us make sure we have everything ready for scrimmages to begin at 6:00.


Between 6:00 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. Teams that want to scrimmage should go to the scrimmage desk in the Entry Level Conference Center (directly below team check-in) to pick up a scrimmage ticket.

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.


The top 32 teams will each receive a team trophy, and the members of those teams will receive individual trophies (up to six per team).

The top 30 individual scorers will receive All-Star awards. In addition, the top eight non-8th graders who are not overall All-Stars will receive Rising Star awards.

All individual awards will be determined by ranking players by points per tossup heard (PPTUH) during the preliminary (Saturday) rounds. Players must have at least 100 tossups heard (approximately five games’ worth) to be eligible for individual awards.

Team trophies (and the individual awards for their members) for teams that finished outside of the top twelve will be handed out immediately following the game in which the team is eliminated (in the game room, by the moderators). The trophies for the top twelve teams and for the All-Stars and Rising Stars will be given out at the awards ceremony (immediately after the finals).

If a team needs to leave prior to the awards ceremony, it can go to the Information Desk to get its trophy and any individual awards earned by its members.

Consolation Rounds

Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs are encouraged to return Sunday morning 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 qualify for the playoffs may also join the consolations once they have been eliminated.

Teams that want to participate in the consolation rounds should be in the Lobby Level Conference Center (the same place as Friday-night check-in) at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. Consolation rounds are scheduled to begin play at 8:45 a.m.

Two kinds of consolation rounds will be offered:

If rooms, buzzers, or staff run short, consolation mini-tournaments will be given priority over ad hoc matches.

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.


Tournament T-shirts are available to players and coaches for $15 each. They may be ordered when submitting the team’s registration form, and will also be available for sale during the tournament while supplies last.

Here is the shirt design:

The 2018 MSNCT t-shirt design


Teams will want to fly into one of the two major Chicago airports, either Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD; much more convenient) or Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW; much less convenient).

There is a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes to bring teams between the hotel and O’Hare. There is no such shuttle for Midway, from which trip a taxi to the hotel will cost approximately $35, or teams can take the CTA’s Orange and Blue Lines for $2.25 per person (getting on at the Midway Orange Line station, transferring to the Blue Line downtown, and getting off at the Rosemont Blue Line station, which is about one block from the hotel).


The official hotel for the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Rooms with one king bed or two double beds are available for $119 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 April 19. Please note that there are two Hyatt hotels in Rosemont; the one hosting the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare next to the convention center.

The Hyatt Regency O’Hare is sold out of certain types of rooms on some nights. If you are unable to book the rooms you want, check out the overflow hotel.

As part of the contract negotiated by NAQT, the hotel will offer complimentary Internet access in guest rooms to tournament participants and their families.

Hyatt Regency O’Hare
9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
Phone: 847-696-1234
Fax: 847-698-0139

Overflow Hotel

NAQT has secured an additional room block at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare, a seven-minute walk from the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. The price ($119 per room per night) and concessions (guest-room Internet access, in-and-out parking for $5 per day) are the same as those at the main hotel. You can book rooms online or by calling the hotel.

Crowne Plaza O’Hare
5440 North River Road
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
Phone: 847-671-6350
Fax: 847-671-5406


Parking is $5/day and includes in-and-out privileges. Teams traveling to the tournament in buses should contact the hotel in advance to discuss parking options.

To receive the discounted parking rate, teams staying at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare should bring their parking ticket to the hotel’s front desk for validation. Teams not staying at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare should validate their parking ticket at NAQT’s check-in desk (Friday or Saturday morning) or at the Information Desk (after the opening meeting on Saturday and throughout Sunday).


The most convenient breakfast and lunch food option will be the hotel's "cash stands" near the Perks coffee shop on the Entry Level. These will be operating on Saturday and Sunday morning and during the tournament's Saturday and Sunday lunch breaks; they will offer the chance to get burgers, pizza slices, and other grab-and-go meals very quickly.

The hotel's O’H American Grill on the Lobby Level will be offering buffet meals from Friday breakfast through Sunday lunch at a discounted price of $14.95 (plus beverage and tax) to tournament attendees. For Friday breakfast and lunch, merely telling the restaurant staff that one is "with NAQT" is enough to obtain the discounted price. Starting with Friday dinner, teams must have a buffet coupon to get the special price. The buffet coupons can be obtained from NAQT's Information Desk. If you think you'll need coupons for breakfast, be sure to pick them up the night before, as the Information Desk may not be open when you hope to start eating!).

There is a food court at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago mall at 5220 Fashion Outlets Way. Its restaurant choices include Freshii (vegetarian), tacos, burgers, and Chinese. To get to the Fashion Outlets from the hotel, walk west on Bryn Mawr, turn left onto River Road, then turn right onto Balmoral Avenue until you get to Fashion Outlets Way. The food court is a 15-minute walk away.

There are also a few restaurants offering more formal dining at the Parkway Bank Park at Rosemont (formerly MB Financial Park). These include Adobe Gila’s, Bogart’s, Hofbräuhaus Chicago, and Fogo de Chão. These are more suited for evening meals and are a 12-minute walk away.

Teams can also order pizza or Chinese food and have it delivered to the hotel.


NAQT will have a professional photographer on-site Friday and Saturday to shoot souvenir pictures of teams. (There is a charge for prints and electronic files.) Photos will be taken near the scrimmage desk on Friday evening and in the Lobby Level Conference Center on Saturday (until about 6:30 p.m.)


Spectators are welcome to attend all games at the MSNCT. No registration or tickets are required; feel free to just show up and watch as many of the games as you would like. If you are interested in starting a quiz bowl team at your college or high school, NAQT personnel will be on hand to talk about the process.


Chicago has a variety of world-class attractions that should appeal to anybody, especially to quiz bowlers!.

The easiest way to reach most of Chicago’s downtown attractions is to ride the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA’s) ‘L’ trains, for which there is a stop within easy walking distance of the hotel: Exit the hotel and walk west on Bryn Mawr; turn right on River Road and pass under I-190 and the CTA tracks. The entrance to Rosemont station on the CTA Blue Line will be on your right. Board trains bound for “Loop” or “Forest Park” (not for O’Hare!) for the 35-minute ride into downtown Chicago.

Once there, the Art Institute of Chicago (Blue Line to Monroe, walk 1 block south to Adams and 3 blocks west) features dozens of tossup-worthy works, including Nighthawks and American Gothic, and adjoins both Millennium Park and Grant Park, home to the Cloud Gate and Buckingham Fountain. Just a bit further south is the Museum Campus (Blue Line to Jackson, walk 1 block east to State Street and Jackson and catch bus 146 toward Museum Campus), which is home to three major institutions: the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the historic Adler Planetarium, which was the first planetarium in the Americas.

The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower; Blue Line to Jackson, walk 4 blocks west) offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline; so does the John Hancock Center (Blue Line to Chicago station, bus 66 toward Navy Pier), located on Michigan Avenue in the heart of famed Magnificent Mile. Further afield are the Lincoln Park Zoo (Blue Line to Western, bus 73 to Clark/North), the Chicago History Museum (5 minutes walk from the zoo), and the Museum of Science and Industry (Blue Line to Jackson, walk 1 block east to State St and Jackson and catch bus 6 toward 79th/South Shore), which is housed in a structure originally built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Social Media

The official hashtag for the tournament is msnct; please use this tag for all messages about the tournament.

Remember that question content for the championship cannot be posted online (or shared through other channels)! This means that team members, coaches, spectators, and moderators should not discuss clues, answers, or even overall themes (e.g., “Lots of opera”) with people on other teams (even those from the same school).

Livebloggers will cover the tournament on NAQT’s social media, especially Twitter (@NAQTLive) and Instagram (@NAQTqb).

Practice Material

Teams that have been invited to compete at the 2018 Middle School National Championship Tournament 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.

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

Finally, teams 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.


Make checks payable to “NAQT” and send them to

National Academic Quiz Tournaments
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 MSNCT, e-mail msnct@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 teams’ plans. If something’s not clear, let us know!

2018 Middle School National Championship Tournament

Field Fee Information Contact Us