Special Rulings on National Championship Qualification

Occasionally scenarios arise for qualification to NAQT’s national championships that are not covered by the ordinary qualification rules. This page documents NAQT’s rulings on such unusual situations. It will be amended as new situations arise.



  • Tournaments are not qualifiers if their registration criteria are based on skill or perceived skill in any way such that more skilled teams (or teams perceived as more skilled) are not permitted.
  • Events that are limited based on year in school, “Junior Varsity” events, and so forth are considered selective in this manner.
  • Events that are limited based on school size, type of school (e.g. public schools only), affiliation (e.g. only schools affiliated with a particular religious denomination), geography (e.g. only schools in a specific county), or membership in an established conference or league are not considered selective in this manner.
  • Conversely, tournaments designed for, or limited to, especially skilled teams (e.g., state championships and “nationals prep” tournaments) may still be qualifiers (if they meet all the other relevant criteria).

Byes and Forfeit Wins

  • Due to imbalanced pools, odd numbers of teams in power-matching systems, or for other reasons, a team may be credited with a forfeit win over a “Bye” team. Forfeit wins may also be credited against teams who registered for a tournament but failed to show up. In these situations and others that NAQT deems similar, the bye or no-show team does not count toward the number of teams in the field used to determine the number of teams who will qualify from that tournament. (It also does not count toward the number of teams for which the host must pay.)
  • The above paragraph does not apply when forfeit wins are issued against teams who arrive late (but eventually do show up), return late from a break, do not return after a break, etc. If a team actually plays any games in a tournament, the team counts toward the number of teams in attendance.

Partial Use of Non-NAQT Questions

  • If a tournament incorporates non-NAQT questions into games that also use NAQT questions (i.e. each game uses both NAQT and non-NAQT questions), or uses NAQT questions for some rounds and non-NAQT questions for some rounds such that an individual team will play both NAQT and non-NAQT questions, NAQT will inquire with the host as to the specific nature of the non-NAQT question use, and a tournament-specific decision will be made based on the relative amounts of each type of question and possibly other factors at NAQT’s discretion.
  • If a tournament has multiple divisions, some using NAQT questions and some not, and the divisions are based on any factor related to skill or perceived skill, then:
    • Only the divisions using NAQT questions will be considered in the field size for invitation purposes.
    • If the “most competitive” division uses NAQT questions, then it and all other divisions using NAQT questions will be considered for national championship qualification. (As usual, all divisions using NAQT questions will be considered when calculating the field size, and invitations will be issued starting with the “most competitive” division.)
    • If the “most competitive” division does not use NAQT questions, then no division from the tournament will be a qualifier for any NAQT national championship.
  • If a tournament has multiple divisions, some using NAQT questions and some not, and the divisions are based on non-skill-related factors, then each division using NAQT questions will be treated as a separate tournament for the purpose of determining national championship invitations. (Divisions using non-NAQT questions will not be qualifiers.)

Ineligible Teams

State-Specific Policies

  • NAQT attempts to follow rules specific to state activities or athletics associations that claim jurisdiction over quiz bowl in a way that affects teams’ interactions with NAQT.
  • In particular, this means that members of MSHSAA may not receive wildcard invitations or be standby teams for tournaments held after the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, unless at least one team from the school has already qualified.
  • However, NAQT will not adhere to policies in a way that affects “other teams.” For instance, if Team X is a member of a state association that forbids Team X from playing Team Y (for any reason), NAQT will not disinvite Team Y—the onus is on Team X to follow any necessary rules (e.g. by forfeiting games scheduled against Team Y, though NAQT sincerely hopes this will never be necessary).

Playing a Packet Set Twice

This policy has moved.

“Gaming the System”

NAQT reserves the right to abrogate or modify any of its qualification policies if it believes that anything is being done in an attempt to “game the system” (a term that NAQT will interpret at its discretion).

Middle School National Championship Tournament

Middle School Teams at High School Tournaments

If teams of middle schoolers from three or more distinct schools attend a high school tournament, the tournament will be treated as a qualifier to the Middle School National Championship Tournament, with the same qualification rules as usual (and only middle school teams considered for said qualification). Otherwise, such tournaments are not qualifiers to the MSNCT.

Small School National Championship Tournament

Special Situations

A winless team is in the top 30% of Small School teams at a tournament, and teams with wins are not.
Because of the policy on ranking teams in skill- or perceived-skill-based divisions, it is possible for a team to finish at the bottom of an upper division, without any wins, but in the top 30% of Small School teams, while there are Small School teams with wins in lower divisions. In this case, NAQT stops assigning qualifiers as soon as a winless team is encountered in the rankings. Therefore, fewer than the usual 30% of teams may qualify.
A team’s only wins are forfeits
SSNCT qualification rules state that a team must win at least one game to be invited to the SSNCT. That win must occur in actual gameplay; forfeit wins (for any reason) are not sufficient.
Varying definitions of “small school”
Some tournaments may assign divisions, issue awards, etc., based on definitions of “small school” that differ from NAQT’s definition of “Small School.” (For instance, the enrollment cutoff may be different.) In such cases, NAQT will do its best to issue SSNCT invitations in accordance with its usual policies, subject to the constraint that no school that does not meet NAQT’s definition of “Small School” will ever be invited to the SSNCT. Hosts are welcome to contact NAQT to ask in advance how their scheme will be interpreted for the sake of issuing SSNCT invitations.

Middle School National Championship Tournament

Typically on Mother's Day weekend, featuring nearly 200 middle schools from across the country.

More About the MSNCT Qualifying Past Winners

High School National Championship Tournament

Our biggest tournament, on Memorial Day weekend with over 350 high schools of all sizes.

More About the HSNCT Qualifying Past Winners

Small School National Championship Tournament

For Small High Schools as defined by NAQT, typically in late April.

More About the SSNCT Qualifying Past Winners

Community College Championship Tournament

Usually in late February, featuring 24 community and junior colleges.

More About the CCCT Qualifying Past Winners

Intercollegiate Championship Tournament

In late March or early April, the top college teams gather for the hardest quiz bowl NAQT offers.

More About the ICT Qualifying Past Winners