2023 Middle School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information

The 2023 Middle School National Championship Tournament (MSNCT) was held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois (near Chicago), on May 12–14, 2023. The 2022 MSNCT was also held at this site.

Contents

    Date

    May 12–14, 2023 (Friday–Sunday). This is Mother’s Day weekend.

    Participants will check in on Friday, May 12 and have the opportunity to meet each other and play scrimmage games.

    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.

    Location

    The tournament will be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois (which is adjacent to Chicago and to O’Hare International Airport). A floor plan (PDF) is available.

    There are two Hyatt hotels in Rosemont; the one hosting the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago.

    The hotel is twelve stories tall, and games may be held on high floors. Many of the elevators provide a view into the tall atrium.

    COVID-19 Safety

    NAQT very strongly recommends that all participants (including spectators) receive all vaccinations for COVID-19 for which they are medically eligible.

    NAQT strongly recommends that all participants wear a well-fitting N95, KN95, or KF94 mask that properly covers their nostrils and mouth at all times while in tournament spaces. NAQT reserves the right to change this recommendation to a requirement that participants wear masks. Such a requirement might be instituted at any time, including during the tournament, and might apply to everyone present or only to specific people (e.g., in cases of close contact with someone who has tested positive). Such a requirement might include only certain kinds of masks being acceptable. Details such as what types of masks are acceptable, and whether NAQT will provide them or participants must provide their own, will be determined later if necessary.

    Any person showing symptoms of COVID-19 must immediately remove themself from tournament spaces unless and until they can provide proof of them testing negative for COVID-19 within the last 24 hours. NAQT reserves the right to make all judgments necessary for enforcing this policy.

    Schedule

    The general schedule for the tournament will consist of check-in and (optional) scrimmage games on Friday night, preliminary games on Saturday, and playoffs on Sunday through the mid- to late afternoon.

    This schedule is final.

    All times are listed in Central time.

    Friday Evening

    Time Event Location Area
    5:00 – 9:00 p.m. Staff check-inHartsfield Lobby Level
    5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Scrimmage staff meetingRosemont Ballroom B Entry Level
    6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Team check-inConference Center foyer Lobby Level
    6:00 – 8:30 p.m. Scrimmage games (optional)Conference Center foyer Entry Level

    Saturday

    Time Event Location Area
    7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Late-arrival team check-inGrand Ballroom Registration Desk Entry Level
    8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Players' and coaches' meetingGrand Ballroom Entry Level
    8:15 – 8:45 a.m. Staff check-inRosemont Ballroom B Entry Level
    8:45 – 9:15 a.m. Staff meetingRosemont Ballroom B Entry Level
    9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Preliminary rounds 1–6Throughout the hotel
    12:30 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch (on your own) 
    2:00 – 5:30 p.m. Preliminary rounds 7–12Throughout the hotel
    5:30 – 9:00 p.m. Consolation sign-upOnline

    Sunday

    Time Event Location Area
    7:30 – 8:15 a.m. Playoff cards distributedConference Center foyer Lobby Level
    8:00 – 8:25 a.m. Playoff staff meetingRosemont Ballroom B Entry Level
    8:00 – 8:25 a.m. Consolation staff meetingL.A.X. Entry Level
    8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon Playoff rounds 13–18Throughout the hotel
    8:45 – 11:30 a.m. Consolation rounds (optional)Throughout the hotel
    12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Lunch (on your own) 
    1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Playoff rounds 19–20Ballrooms
    1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Buzzer returnGrand Ballroom Registration Desk Entry Level
    2:30 p.m. (or earlier if ready) Finals (round 21 and maybe 22)Grand Ballroom Entry Level
    After finals AwardsGrand Ballroom 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).

    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.

    In general, lost-and-found items will be taken to the Information Desk during the tournament. We will notify owners to the extent we can identify them. At the end of the tournament, any unclaimed items will be brought to the hotel’s general lost-and-found.

    Rules and Eligibility

    Gameplay will follow the Official NAQT Rules. Player eligibility is governed by the Middle School Eligibility Rules.

    Qualification

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

    Registration has closed.

    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 February 18 (though some teams were promoted from the waitlist after that).

    Field

    These teams attended the tournament.

    Format

    Preliminary Rounds (Saturday)

    The preliminary rounds will take place using power-matching, also known as “the card system.” That is, each team’s opponents (after their first game) will depend on their performance in previous rounds, and teams will always face opponents with the same record or as near to the same record as possible. In the preliminary rounds, each team will play eight games and have several byes. Because of this system, it is not possible to know each team’s opponents in advance.

    Playoff Rounds (Sunday)

    Teams with a winning record in their preliminary games will compete in double-elimination playoffs. The playoff bracket will be seeded by preliminary win-loss record followed by points per tossup heard. Some teams will have byes in some rounds of the playoffs.

    For the finals, there are two possible cases depending on the results of the semifinal round. In the semifinal round, the last team who has not lost in the playoffs will play a team who has taken one loss in the playoffs, while the other game will involve two teams who have each taken one loss in the playoffs. If the team who has not lost in the playoffs wins its semifinal game, then it will have the advantage in a final against the winner of the other semifinal game, that is, the former team need only win one of two games to claim the championship, while the latter team must win two games to claim the championship; meanwhile, the teams who lost the semifinal games will play for third place. If the team who had not yet lost in the playoffs loses its semifinal game, then the final will be a three-team, two-game procedure: the two semifinal winners will play each other, and the winner of that game will play the team who had not lost before the semifinals in a one-game final, while the team eliminated in the semifinal round will finish in fourth place.

    All teams eliminated in the same round of the playoffs will be considered tied. Teams who did not make the playoffs will be ranked (behind teams who made the playoffs) by win-loss record followed by points per tossup heard.

    Fees and Payment

    Registration has closed.

    The registration fee is $685 per team.

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

    Buzzer Discounts

    Teams who bring a working buzzer system to the tournament will be eligible for a $30 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 four buzzer-system discounts.

    Timing

    NAQT will only award the discount for buzzer systems that it receives by 9:00 p.m. Friday and may keep until 1:00 p.m. Sunday; if you cannot commit to those times, do not register to bring a buzzer system!

    Buzzer Return

    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 4:00 p.m. on Sunday at the Grand Ballroom Registration Desk (Entry Level). If a team knows in advance they will be unable to pick up their buzzer system in time, they should make special arrangements at check-in; barring other arrangements, unclaimed buzzer systems will be left with the hotel bell desk.

    Payment

    Payment is due by the beginning of the tournament. NAQT strongly prefers payment prior to tournament check-in but also accepts payments at check-in. Schools that will be unable to pay by this time (typically for reasons related to school bureaucracies) should discuss their situation with NAQT well in advance.

    NAQT may specify earlier payment deadlines for specific teams, especially those for which the school is not paying.

    NAQT will send invoices well in advance of the tournament. If you would like to pay or request an invoice earlier, once you have entered all the information that can affect costs (but not necessarily entered your roster), at the bottom of your registration page, click “View Cost.” Verify that the listed information is correct, and if so, follow the instructions to request an invoice so that we have the proper billing information. You will also be offered the opportunity to pay by credit card.

    Checks, payable to “NAQT,” should be sent to

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

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

    Cancellation

    Starting on February 28, teams who cancel their registration will owe a cancellation fee of $342.50 (half of the registration fee). Teams who cancel their registration on or after April 15, or who fail to show up to the tournament, will owe a cancellation fee of $513.75 (75% of the registration fee). These deadlines notwithstanding, teams will always have a seven-day grace period after registering during which they can cancel without incurring a fee.

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

    Cancellation due to COVID-19

    NAQT expects all prospective participants to follow the recommendations of the CDC (and any other applicable health agencies) with regard to isolation, quarantine, not traveling, etc., based on testing positive for COVID-19, having symptoms thereof, or having been exposed to people who are symptomatic or who have tested positive, etc.—even if that means they are unable to participate in the tournament.

    NAQT will waive cancellation fees for any team whose chaperone or any player is unable to participate due to following such recommendations, though NAQT strongly prefers affected teams to play shorthanded or find an alternative chaperone if at all possible. For a cancellation fee waiver, notice should be given to NAQT as early as possible, supporting documentation or information may be required, and the offer is only available to teams who are in full compliance with other requirements pertaining to payment, submission of participation agreements, etc.

    Participation Agreements

    Players, coaches, and chaperones must sign a participation agreement covering expectations, media coverage, etc. All agreements must be submitted to participate@naqt.com by Friday, April 28, 2023.

    For players’ agreements, both the player and their parent/guardian must sign.

    Download Agreement Form

    The signature(s) on the participation agreement must be handwritten, not typed. The agreement may be submitted by sending a scan or photo to participate@naqt.com. Only the last page is required unless the participant is indicating a preference not to be recorded (in which case the page with the checkbox to indicate that preference must be included).

    Chaperones

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

    All players’ parents/guardians must affirm (via the participation agreement) that they accept their child’s team’s chaperone and the chaperone’s role of responsibility.

    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 9:00 p.m. in the Conference Center (Lobby Level) on Friday, May 12. During this period NAQT will distribute information folders, answer questions, process payments, verify rosters, and take care of other administrative matters. There is a “late” check-in period on Saturday, but NAQT would prefer that as many teams as possible check in on Friday night.

    To check in, each team should send only one coach or chaperone to the check-in area. That person will be given the team’s information folder. Others should not enter the check-in area.

    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 games.

    Teams that don’t arrive at the hotel until after 9:00 p.m. on Friday may check in early Saturday morning at the Grand Ballroom Registration Desk (Entry Level). Teams that checked in on Friday do not need to check in again on Saturday.

    Scrimmages

    Between 6:00 and 8:30 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.

    Teams that want to participate in the scrimmages should go to the Conference Center foyer, Entry Level. 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 game, 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.

    Depending on how many teams want to play scrimmage games, it may be necessary to limit how many games each team can play, but all teams who want to will be able to play at least one game.

    Awards

    Teams finishing in 21st place and higher will receive trophies, and the players on those teams will receive medals (up to six per team).

    The top 25 individual scorers (determined by points per tossup heard in the preliminary rounds) will receive All-Star awards. The top eight non-eighth-graders who are not All-Stars will receive Rising Star awards.

    Consolation Games

    Teams who do not qualify for the playoffs are encouraged to return Sunday morning to play consolation games.

    Signup has closed.

    Consolation games will consist of two-, three-, and four-round mini-tournaments. Teams can specify their preference when signing up; they will not be assigned a longer mini-tournament than they request, though depending on supply and demand, they may be assigned a shorter one. Signing up for consolation mini-tournaments is the only way to participate in consolation games; there are no ad hoc games.

    Most consolation mini-tournaments will start at 8:45 a.m.. Some may start later.

    Consolation games have no effect on a team’s final rank in the tournament. They are played solely for fun. They will use the same questions as are being used in the playoffs.

    Transportation

    Flights

    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 or 30 minutes (depending on time of day) to transport people from O’Hare to the hotel (and vice versa). As of 2024, the shuttle pickup location has changed; it is now outside of Door 2A on the Arrivals Level of Terminal 2. There is also a pickup location by Door 5E in Terminal 5, but that is much less convenient for most domestic arrivals.

    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 $3 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

    Parking standard vehicles at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare costs $15/day plus tax, 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 at the Information Desk to validate their parking ticket. (Do not use the manual validator box if you are staying overnight at the hotel.)

    Hotel

    The official hotel for the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago. (There are two Hyatt hotels in Rosemont; the one hosting the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago.)

    Rooms with one king bed are available for $119 per night, and rooms with two double beds are available for $127 per night. To receive the group rate, rooms must be booked using the group reservation link by Wednesday, April 26, 2023 (and before the block fills). It is also possible to book by calling 800-544-9288 and mentioning the group code “MS23,” but hold times are often long.

    Between the MSNCT and the other events scheduled to take place at the hotel, 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.

    Guests with concerns about rooms on high floors should discuss that with the hotel as early as possible. The hotel may be able to assign sleeping rooms on lower floors. However, games may still be held on high floors.

    Under Illinois law, otherwise tax-exempt organizations are still required to pay hotel occupancy taxes. (Title 86, chapter 1, section 480.101, subsection b.4 of the Illinois Administrative Code; see also question and answer on the Illinois Department of Revenue’s website)

    Food

    The hotel will operate food stands for lunch on both days near the Perks coffee shop on the Entry Level. Burgers, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and similar food will be available.

    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 Entertainment District. 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 practicing on 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 study 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

    Spectators are welcome to attend any part of the tournament (though some areas may have limited capacity).

    No registration or tickets are required for spectators.

    Spectators are required to comply with all COVID-19 safety measures.

    Sightseeing

    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 east) 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, respectively. 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).

    We will post highlights from 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, on iOS), 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!

    2023 Middle School National Championship Tournament

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