2020 Middle School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information
The 2020 Middle School National Championship Tournament will be held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, Illinois (near Chicago), on May 8–10, 2020. The 2019 MSNCT was also held at this site.
Registration is now open.
May 8–10, 2020 (Friday–Sunday). This is Mother’s Day weekend.
Participants will check in on Friday, May 8 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.
This schedule is tentative.
|1:00 – 5:00 p.m.||Early Buzzer Bonus intake||Conference Center foyer||Lobby Level|
|5:00 – 9:30 p.m.||Staff check-in||TBD|
|6:00 – 9:30 p.m.||Team check-in||Conference Center foyer||Lobby Level|
|6:00 – 9:30 p.m.||Scrimmage rounds (optional)||Conference Center foyer||Entry Level|
|8:00 – 9:00 a.m.||Late arrival team check-in||Outside opening meeting|
|9:00 – 9:30 a.m.||Opening meeting for players and coaches||TBD|
|8:30 – 9:00 a.m.||Secondary staff check-in||TBD|
|9:00 – 9:30 a.m.||Staff meeting||TBD|
|9:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.||Preliminary rounds 1–6||Throughout the hotel|
|12:45 – 2:15 p.m.||Lunch||On your own|
|2:15 – 6:15 p.m.||Preliminary rounds 7–13||Throughout the hotel|
|5:45 p.m. – 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.||Playoff staff meeting||TBD||International Level|
|8:00 – 8:15 a.m.||Consolation staff meeting||TBD||International Level|
|8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon||Playoff rounds 14–19||Throughout the hotel|
|8:45 – 11:30 a.m.||Consolation rounds||Conference Center foyer||Lobby Level|
|12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.||Lunch||On your own|
|1:00 – 2:45 p.m.||Playoff rounds 20–22||Ballrooms|
|1:00 – 5:00 p.m.||Buzzer return||TBD||Entry Level|
|2:45 p.m.||Finals (round 23 and maybe 24)||TBD||Entry Level|
|After finals||Awards||TBD||Entry Level|
Frequently Asked Questions
NAQT has prepared answers to frequently asked questions about its national championships.
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.
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 Wednesday, January 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 Wednesday, January 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.
As in 2019, the questions for the playoff and consolation (Sunday) rounds of the championship will be somewhat longer and more difficult than the questions for the preliminary (Saturday) rounds.
This change was made based on customer feedback and analysis of the overall conversion numbers from past MSNCTs; taken together, it seemed clear that harder questions with more clues would be necessary to distinguish the nation’s elite middle-school teams.
The field is limited to 160 teams; these teams have registered. NAQT may expand the field depending on the level of interest and the availability of facilities and staff.
The format will be determined by the number of registered teams; it will probably be similar to last year’s format, which consisted of eight power-matched games for every team on Saturday followed by double-elimination playoffs on Sunday.
Regardless of format, all teams are guaranteed at least eight preliminary games on Saturday.
Registration and Fees
Registration is now open.
The registration fee is $615 per team.
Registration will definitely close no later than May 6, 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.
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 (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.
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.)
Schools may also earn discounts on their MSNCT registration by providing staff members for some of NAQT’s other national championships—the Community College Championship Tournament, Intercollegiate Championship Tournament, Individual Player National Championship Tournament, and Small School National Championship Tournament—according to our cross-tournament discount program. The CCCT’s location has not yet been determined, while the ICT, IPNCT, and SSNCT will also be at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.
The last day for a team to declare that it is bringing a staff member is April 14. 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 15 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com by Friday, May 1, 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.
- If the team’s school is sending multiple teams to the tournament, each team must have its own chaperone as just described (i.e., the same person may not be the chaperone for multiple teams).
Teams who wish to request a variance from the chaperone policy should contact NAQT at firstname.lastname@example.org well in advance of the tournament to discuss their situation.
The primary check-in period will be from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. in the Conference Center (Lobby Level) on Friday, May 8. 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 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 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. outside the opening meeting. 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.
Teams that want to participate in the scrimmages should go to the Conference Center foyer on the Entry Level (i.e., directly below the check-in area). 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 teams and individual scorers will receive awards. The exact number of trophies will be determined by the overall field size. Last year, the top 32 teams received trophies.
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:
- 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 on Saturday evening or (if any spots are still available) Sunday morning. Teams in mini-tournaments should arrive at the consolation desk at 8:30 a.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 at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday after the mini-tournaments have been launched.
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.
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 $2.25 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 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 $116/night and rooms with two double beds are available for $124 per night.
To receive that rate, you must book online using NAQT’s group code. The link for doing so will be posted here when it is available.
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.
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 serves most meals, often with an all-you-can-eat buffet.
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 from the hotel.
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, Hofbräuhaus Chicago, and Fogo de Chão. 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.
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 (email@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
To ask specific questions about the MSNCT, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!