2016 Small School National Championship Tournament

NAQT is pleased to announce that its 2016 Small School National Championship Tournament will be held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel in Rosemont, IL, on April 30 – May 1, 2016.

Note that NAQT also runs a High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) for which all high schools are eligible. Please make sure you are looking at information for the proper tournament; this page concerns the SSNCT, which is NAQT’s national championship for small, public, nonselective high schools.

Registration has closed.


April 30 – May 1, 2016 (Saturday–Sunday).

Teams will check in on Friday, April 29, and have the opportunity to meet each other and play practice 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 stay through Monday (or longer!) to explore Rosemont 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 (if they notify NAQT of the situation in advance).


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


This schedule was updated on April 20 and is final.

Friday (evening)
5:00 (or upon arrival)General staff check–inConference Center atrium, Lobby Level
6:00–9:30Team check-inConference Center atrium, Lobby Level
6:00–9:30Optional scrimmage roundsOrganized on the International Level
7:30–8:30Late-arrival team check-inOutside the International Ballroom (International Level)
8:00–8:30Late-arrival staff check-inParis (International Level)
8:30–9:15Staff meetingParis
8:45–9:00Opening meeting for teamsInternational Ballroom (International Level)
9:45–12:15Rounds 1–5Meeting rooms and parlors
12:15–1:45Lunch (not provided)
1:45–5:15Rounds 6–11Meeting rooms and parlors
7:00Playoff Pairings PostedInformation Desk (Lobby Level atrium)
8:00–8:25Playoff staff meetingParis (International Level)
8:00–8:25Consolation staff meetingLogan (Lobby Level)
8:30–11:30Rounds 12–16Meeting rooms
8:45–11:30Consolation organizationConference Center atrium (Lobby Level)
11:30–12:30Lunch (not provided)
12:30–2:00Rounds 17–18Meeting rooms
2:00Finals (1 or 2 games)Rosemont Ballroom AB (Entry Level)
After finalsAwardsRosemont Ballroom AB
After awardsBuzzer returnOutside the Rosemont Ballroom
After awardsQuestion distributionOutside the Rosemont Ballroom

On Saturday morning teams should be in the International Ballroom (on the International Level) by 8:40 a.m.

A printable Time and Place Guide is available.

Information Desk:

NAQT will be operating an Information Desk throughout the tournament in the Lobby Level atrium. The Information Desk will be in contact with all control rooms and the stat room throughout the day. The Information Desk should be the first place teams go with any question about the tournament. NAQT will also be selling practice questions and tournament T-shirts at the Information Desk.


This tournament is open to teams from schools that meet NAQT’s definition of a small, public school with a non-selective admissions policy. Teams from schools that don’t meet that criterion may still be eligible to attend a separate event, NAQT’s 2016 High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT), which is open to any school that overlaps grades 9 through 12.


Schools qualify to send teams to the SSNCT through their performance at NAQT invitational events and NAQT State Championships held throughout the year.

Registration has closed.


The field for the tournament is limited to 80 teams.

Online registration has opened; the current field is listed here.


Teams are guaranteed exactly nine 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 (5–4 or better) will advance to the playoffs. The elimination playoffs will be held on Sunday; teams that finish Saturday 6–3 or better can lose twice before being eliminated; teams that finish 5–4 on Saturday will be eliminated after a single loss.

A total of 11 rounds will be played on Saturday, so each team will have exactly 2 byes. Either 8 or 9 rounds will be played on Sunday, depending on whether the champion finishes with a playoff loss or not.

All playoff teams must pick up their playoff cards at the Information Desk between 7:00 and 8:15 a.m. on Sunday. The first-round Sunday pairings and an overall bracket will be posted at the Information Desk by 7:00 a.m.

The 2016 SSNCT Format Guide (PDF) provides a more in-depth discussion of the format.

Consolation Rounds:

Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs are encouraged to return on Sunday to play against any other teams they want (or to mix-and-match from across the country) on the playoff questions. All students--even alternates, standby teams, or observers--are welcome to take part. Teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs may also take part.

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 these starting Saturday evening. Teams can also sign up Sunday morning, but the berths will be first-come, first-served, so teams that really care about getting a spot in one of the larger events should make a point of signing up on Saturday evening.

  • 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. If you only want one or two additional games, you want to go for this option. Teams may also play ad hoc matches after they are eliminated from the playoffs or after their mini-tournament finishes.

If rooms, buzzers, or staffers 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.


Registration has closed.

The registration fee is $595 per team if payment is received on or before March 25. The fee is $615 per team on or after March 26. Schools whose first qualifying event occurred after March 1 have until April 11 to register at the lower rate. The deadline to accept an invitation is April 23, or when the field fills, whichever comes first.

Teams attending both the HSNCT and the SSNCT will receive a $100 discount on their HSNCT entrance fee.

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 you have qualified, you should register as soon as you can to ensure your team a berth in the tournament.

Teams that cancel on or after March 7 will be liable for one-tenth of the base registration fee. Teams that cancel on or after March 28 will be liable for one-half of the base registration fee. Those cancellation-fee deadlines notwithstanding, teams will always have a one-week grace period after they register to cancel with no penalty.

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

Teams bringing a working lockout 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. Each team may claim up to two such discounts. NAQT will only award the discount for lockout systems that it can keep from check-in until the Sunday lunch break. If a team anticipates leaving before that, we would prefer to use (and discount) a different system to avoid inconveniencing that team and ourselves.

New for this tournament, NAQT will also be paying a $20 cash “Early Buzzer Bonus” for every buzzer system dropped off between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Friday. It is valuable for us to get buzzers early (so we can test them and have them ready for scrimmage rounds), and we are willing to pay for that. A team can thus get a total of $40 for each of its buzzers ($20 discount, $20 Early Buzzer Bonus), assuming it lists them on its registration form and drops them off between 1:00 and 5:00 on Friday. The bonus will be paid immediately, in cash, to whomever drops the buzzer off.

Teams may supply one or more qualified staffers for the tournament to earn discounts on their registration fees. Teams will receive a $50 discount for each staffer on Saturday and a $50 discount for each staffer on Sunday (for a total of $100 if the staffer works both days). Team staffers 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-supplied staffers 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; otherwise, all registered staff members must complete the 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 staffer. (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 staffer to the SSNCT is March 25. Team staffers suggested after that date may be accepted or rejected at NAQT’s discretion.

Teams that cancel a staffer (of any kind) on or after March 25 will not only forfeit the discount, but will be charged a $100 penalty to offset NAQT’s cost for finding a last-minute replacement.

Schools may earn discounts on their SSNCT registration by staffing two of NAQT’s other national championships-- the CCCT (Atlanta) and the ICT (Chicago)--according to our cross-tournament discount program.

Every competing school will receive a complete copy of the question set used at this tournament. Please note that teams that do not pick up their questions at the tournament itself will be charged a shipping fee ($10) by NAQT to mail them. Questions will not be distributed until the end of the tournament.

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. on Friday, April 29. When 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. Historically, there is a long line just after the check-in desk opens, so we encourage teams to glance at the line every 20-30 minutes and to come check in when it is short. There is no good reason 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, grabbing 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 lockout 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 window to earn yourself a little extra cash and to help us make sure we have everything ready for scrimmages to begin at 6:00.

Teams that don’t arrive at the hotel until Saturday morning can check in between 7:30 and 8:30. Teams that checked in on Friday do not need to check in again on Saturday.


Between 6:00 p.m. 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.

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 16 teams will each receive a team trophy, and the members (and coach) of those teams will receive individual awards (up to six per team). The top twelve individual scorers will receive All-Star awards.

In addition, the top six ninth- and tenth-graders who are not overall All-Stars will receive Rising Star awards. Players in eighth grade (or below) are not eligible for Rising Star awards.

All individual awards will be based (only) on the results of the preliminary rounds. Players must have at least 120 tossups heard (approximately six games) to be eligible for individual awards.

If a team needs to leave prior to the award ceremony, it can pick up All-Star or Rising Star awards earned by its members at the Information Desk.


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


Teams will want to fly into one of the two major Chicago airports, either O’Hare International (much more convenient; airport code ORD) or Midway International (much less convenient; code MDW). There is a free hotel shuttle that runs every 15 minutes to bring teams to and from O’Hare Airport (but not Midway).


The official hotel for the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare itself. Quadruple-occupancy rooms (with two double beds) are available for $114 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 13. Please note that there are two Hyatt hotels in Rosemont; the one hosting the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare right next to the convention center.

Between the SSNCT 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 quadruple-occupancy rooms (with two double beds).

As part of the contract negotiated by NAQT, the hotel will offer complimentary guest room Internet access to tournament participants and their families. This only applies to rooms booked using the NAQT group code.

The hotel has a complimentary shuttle to O’Hare. The cost of a taxi from Midway is approximately $35. For public transportation between Midway and the hotel (via the Orange and Blue ‘L’ train lines), the cost is $2.25 per person. Teams taking the ‘L’ should get off at the Rosemont exit, from which the hotel is easily walkable.

Hyatt Regency O’Hare
9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, Illinois, USA 60018
Telephone: 847.696.1234
Fax: 847.698.0139


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.


The Hyatt Regency O’Hare operates a complimentary shuttle between O’Hare Airport and the hotel. Since the official hotel is also serving as the competition site, NAQT will not be providing additional shuttle or bus services.

Relationship to the HSNCT:

Small schools remain eligible and welcome to attend the 2016 HSNCT, which is NAQT’s overall championship for high schools. The SSNCT and HSNCT will use different question sets, and a school that attends both will receive a $100 discount on its HSNCT registration fee.

Practice Questions:

Teams that have been invited to compete at the 2016 Small School National Championship Tournament may be interested in purchasing questions from previous years to prepare for the event. All 146 of NAQT’s past regular-season sets are available as are the sets from previous championships.

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

Finally, teams will 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.


Registration fees and discounts are listed above. Make checks payable to “NAQT” and send them to Chad Kubicek, 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 SSNCT, please contact us:

  • by e-mail at ssnct@naqt.com
  • by phone at 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”)
  • by fax at 413‑473‑1617
  • by postal mail at:
    11521 W 69th Street
    Shawnee, KS 66203

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!