2019 Middle School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information

The 2019 Middle School National Championship Tournament (MSNCT) was held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois (near Chicago), on May 10–12, 2019. The 2018 MSNCT was also held at this site.

Registration has closed.



    May 10–12, 2019 (Friday–Sunday). This is Mother’s Day weekend.

    Participants will check in on Friday, May 10 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 arrive earlier or stay later to explore Chicagoland 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.


    The Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel in Rosemont, Illinois (near Chicago). This building is the official hotel, and it contains all of the competition rooms. An online floor plan (PDF) is available.


    This schedule is final.

    All times are listed in Central time.

    Friday Evening

    Time Event Location Area
    1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Early Buzzer Bonus intakeConference Center foyer Lobby Level
    5:00 – 9:30 p.m. Staff check-inVienna International Level
    6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Team check-inConference Center foyer Lobby Level
    6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Scrimmage rounds (optional)Conference Center foyer Entry Level


    Time Event Location Area
    8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Late arrival team check-inGrand Ballroom Registration Desk Entry Level
    9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Player meetingGrand Ballroom Entry Level
    8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Secondary staff check-inRosemont Ballroom BC Entry Level
    9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Staff meetingRosemont Ballroom BC Entry Level
    9:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Preliminary rounds 1–6Throughout the hotel
    12:45 – 2:15 p.m. LunchOn your own
    2:15 – 6:15 p.m. Preliminary rounds 7–13Throughout the hotel
    5:45 p.m. – morning Consolation mini-tournament sign-upInformation Desk Lobby Level Atrium


    Time Event Location Area
    7:00 a.m. Playoff bracket postedInformation Desk Lobby Level Atrium
    7:00 – 8:15 a.m. Playoff cards distributedInformation Desk Lobby Level Atrium
    8:00 – 8:15 a.m. Playoff staff meetingVienna International Level
    8:00 – 8:15 a.m. Consolation staff meetingFlorence International Level
    8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon Playoff rounds 14–19Throughout the hotel
    8:45 – 11:30 a.m. Consolation roundsConference Center foyer Lobby Level
    12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. LunchOn your own
    1:00 – 2:45 p.m. Playoff rounds 20–22Ballrooms
    1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Buzzer returnL.A.X. A Entry Level
    2:45 p.m. Finals (round 23 and maybe 24)Rosemont Ballroom Entry Level
    After finals AwardsRosemont Ballroom Entry Level
    After finals until 5:00 p.m. Packet set distributionD.F.W. A Entry Level

    Frequently Asked Questions

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

    Information Desk

    Starting Friday evening, NAQT will operate an Information Desk in the Lobby Level atrium. 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. Teams who pre-ordered T-shirts may pick them up 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

    This tournament will use NAQT’s Official Gameplay Rules. Player eligibility is governed by the Middle School Eligibility Rules.


    Schools qualify to send teams to the MSNCT through their performance at tournaments using NAQT questions throughout the year.

    Registration has closed.


    The preliminary (Saturday) rounds of the 2019 championship will use questions similar in length and difficulty to those at previous championships. The Sunday (playoff and consolation) rounds will use longer and harder questions similar to those in NAQT’s Regular Invitational Series sets. The subject distribution and overall phrasing of the playoff rounds will be consistent with the preliminary rounds (though, again, the questions will be harder).

    This change was made based on customer feedback and analysis of the overall conversion numbers for the past years; taken together, it seemed clear that harder questions with more clues would be necessary to distinguish the nation’s elite middle-school teams.

    A sample packet from one of NAQT’s Regular Invitational Series sets is available online.


    These teams attended the tournament.


    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. Between nine and eleven rounds will be played on Sunday, depending on the size of the playoff field and 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 2019 MSNCT Format Guide for more details about the card system.

    Registration and Fees

    Registration has closed.

    The registration fee is $595 per team.

    Registration will definitely close no later than May 8, but the field may fill earlier.

    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 March 12 (though some teams were promoted from the waitlist after that).


    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 1 will be liable for 10% of the base registration fee; teams who cancel on or after April 15 will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee; and teams who cancel on or after May 1 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 may keep until 1:00 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 in the Conference Center foyer (Lobby Level). 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 1:00 p.m. on Sunday in L.A.X. A (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 5:00 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.

    Other Discounts

    Teams may earn a $50 discount for providing a staff member on Saturday, and/or a $50 discount for providing a staff member on Sunday.

    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.

    Teams cannot “split” a single staff discount across two people; each daily staff discount must be earned by a single person. (It is fine to earn two discounts by having one person working one day and another person working the other.)

    In addition to earning discounts by providing staff for the MSNCT itself, schools may earn discounts on their MSNCT registration by providing staff for three of NAQT’s other national championships — the Community College Championship Tournament (in Orlando), the Small School National Championship Tournament (also to be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare), or the Intercollegiate Championship Tournament (also at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare) — according to our cross-tournament discount program.

    The last day for a team to declare that it is bringing a staff member is April 12. 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 13 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.

    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

    Please send questions about billing to billing@naqt.com.


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

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

    Checking In

    The primary check-in period will be from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. in the Conference Center (Lobby Level) on Friday, May 10. During this period NAQT will be distributing information folders, answering questions, receiving payments, and taking care of other administrative matters. There is a late check-in period on Saturday morning, but NAQT would prefer that as many teams as possible check in on Friday night.

    To check in, each team should send one coach 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 in the Conference Center foyer (Lobby Level). 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 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. at the Grand Ballroom Registration Desk (Entry Level). Teams that checked in on Friday do not need to check in again on Saturday.


    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 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.


    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 finish 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.


    Teams who do not qualify for the playoffs are encouraged to return 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:

    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.



    Participants are strongly encouraged to fly into Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), which is extremely close to the hotel. They may also fly into Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), but it is much less convenient.

    Ground Transportation

    The hotel runs a free shuttle every 15 minutes to transport people from O’Hare to the hotel (and vice versa). There is no such shuttle for Midway. A taxi between Midway and the hotel will cost $35 or more, or you can take the CTA’s Orange and Blue Lines for $2.75 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).

    Driving Directions

    The hotel’s address is 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Rosemont, Illinois.


    Parking standard vehicles at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare costs $15/day, including in-and-out privileges. Participants traveling to the tournament in buses should contact the hotel in advance to discuss parking options.

    To receive the discounted parking rate, participants staying at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare should mention when checking into their guest rooms (not the tournament) that they have parked at the hotel and validate their ticket. Participants not staying at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare should use the manual validator box to validate their parking ticket at NAQT’s check-in desk (Friday) or at the Information Desk (Saturday or Sunday). Do not use the manual validator box if you are an overnight guest of the hotel!


    The official hotel for the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Rooms with one king bed are available for $115/night and rooms with two double beds are available for $123 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 18. 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.

    Between the MSNCT and the other events scheduled for the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, it is expected that the hotel will run out of rooms. NAQT strongly recommends that teams book their rooms as early as possible, particularly if they want rooms with two double beds. The MSNCT required an overflow hotel last year, and NAQT anticipates needing one this year as well. That is, the teams that wait the longest to book will probably end up in another (nearby) hotel rather than the main 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.


    The hotel’s O’H American Grill on the Lobby Level will be offering all-you-can-eat buffet meals throughout the weekend at a discounted price of $15.00 (plus tax and tip) for tournament attendees.

    In addition to the buffet meals, the hotel will operate “grab-and-go” cash stands for lunch on Saturday and Sunday near the Perks coffee shop on the Entry Level.

    There is a food court with a variety of typical food-court-style restaurants at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago mall at 5220 Fashion Outlets Way. 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 from the hotel.

    There are also several restaurants offering more formal dining at the Parkway Bank Park at Rosemont (formerly MB Financial Park). These are more suited for evening meals and are a twelve-minute walk away.

    Participants can also order carry-out or delivery from local restaurants.

    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.

    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 email (advocate@naqt.com) 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.

    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.


    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 you’re downtown, 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 Cloud Gate (“The Bean”) 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 875 North Michigan Avenue (formerly 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 Street 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 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 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).

    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, maps of the venue, help reaching the Information Desk, 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 MSNCT, write to 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 participants’ plans. If something’s not clear, let us know!

    2019 Middle School National Championship Tournament

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