2018 Small School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information

The 2018 Small School National Championship Tournament will be held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel in Rosemont, IL, on April 27–29, 2018. This is the same hotel that hosted the 2017 SSNCT.

The 2018 Small School National Championship Tournament is NAQT’s championship tournament for small high schools; it is split into two divisions: one for traditional public schools and one for all other schools. (This is a change from the 2017 event in which the second division was limited to private schools and some charter schools.) Note that NAQT also runs an overall High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) for which all high schools are eligible.

Registration has closed.


April 27–29, 2018 (Friday–Sunday).

Teams will check in on Friday, April 27, 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 stay through Monday (or longer!) 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 (if they notify NAQT of the situation in advance).


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

There is also an overflow hotel for teams that could not be accommodated at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. All competition will take place at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.


This schedule is tentative, but actual games will not start earlier than 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and the finals will not start later than 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Friday (evening)

1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Early Buzzer Bonus intake Conference Center foyer, Lobby Level
5:00 p.m. (or upon arrival) General staff check-in London International Level
6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Team check-in Conference Center foyer, Lobby Level
6:00 – 9:30 p.m. Optional scrimmage rounds TBA


7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Late-arrival team check-in Grand Ballroom ABCD Entry Level
7:30 – 8:00 a.m. Late-arrival staff check-in London International Level
8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Staff meeting London International Level
8:15 – 8:50 a.m. Opening meeting(s) Grand Ballroom ABCD Entry Level
9:00 – 12:30 p.m. Rounds 1–7 Meeting rooms and parlors
12:30 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch (not provided)
2:00 – 6:30 p.m. Rounds 8–15 Meeting rooms and parlors
6:30 p.m.– morning Consolation mini-tournament sign-up Information Desk Lobby Level atrium


7:00 a.m. Playoff pairings posted Information Desk Lobby Level atrium
8:00 – 8:25 a.m. Staff meetings (playoff/consolation) London/Paris International Level
8:30 – 12:00 noon Rounds 16–21 Meeting rooms
8:45 – 12:00 noon Consolation rounds Conference Center foyer, Lobby Level
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch (not provided)
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Rounds 22–23 Meeting rooms and Ballrooms
1:00 – 4:30 p.m. Buzzer return North Central Entry Level
1:45 p.m. Open Division Finals (one or two games) Grand Ballroom BC Entry Level
2:30 p.m. Traditional Public Division Finals (one or two games) Rosemont Ballroom Entry Level
After finals Awards Rosemont Ballroom Entry Level
After finals until 4:30 p.m. Packet set distribution North Central Entry Level

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Information Desk

NAQT will be operating an Information Desk on Saturday and Sunday 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 questions about the tournament. NAQT will also be selling practice questions and tournament T-shirts at the Information Desk. (Teams with questions on Friday can get them answered at the check-in 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. This number is only for text messages, not calls. Call 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”) to speak to a member of tournament staff.


This tournament will use NAQT’s Official Gameplay Rules.


This tournament will use NAQT’s High School Eligibility Rules. Furthermore, it is limited to teams from schools that meet NAQT’s definition of a small school. There are two divisions:

Teams from schools that don’t fit either criteria are still eligible to attend NAQT’s overall High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT), a separate event that will take place on Memorial Day weekend in Atlanta.


Schools qualify to send teams to the SSNCT through their performance at tournaments using NAQT questions that are held throughout the year. Every event is potentially a qualifier for both divisions of the SSNCT.

Registration has closed.

Teams that have not yet qualified may request wildcard invitations to either division.

Teams that don’t qualify for the SSNCT (either via an automatic invitation or by wildcard) may register to attend the tournament on a standby basis. Qualified teams may also attend on a standby basis.


The field for the Traditional Public division is limited to 96 teams.

The field for the Open division is limited to 64 teams.

The current field is listed here.


The two divisions will compete entirely separately. Every team (regardless of division) will have 10 preliminary matches distributed over 14 preliminary rounds. Each team will thus have 4 bye rounds during which it is not playing. During bye rounds, teams may relax, grab a snack, or watch some of their new friends compete.

There will be separate playoffs for each division on Sunday, culminating in final matches to determine each division’s champion(s). The Traditional Public School division, in addition to naming an overall champion, will identify the top Very Small School (schools limited to 300 or fewer students in their top three grades) via additional matches. (Such schools are still eligible to win the overall division title.)

The details of the format will be announced once the final field size is known.


Registration has closed.

The registration fee is $635 per team if payment is received on or before March 23. The fee is $655 per team on or after March 24. Schools whose first qualifying event occurred after March 1 have until April 9 to register at the lower rate. No teams may register after April 21, but the field may fill earlier.

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 5 will be liable for 10% of the base registration fee. Teams that cancel on or after March 26 will be liable for 50% of the base registration fee. Those general 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 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. Each team may claim up to two such discounts. NAQT will only award the discount for buzzer systems that it can keep from check-in until the end of the Sunday lunch break. If a team anticipates leaving before that, we would prefer to use (and give a discount for) a different system to avoid inconveniencing that team and ourselves. Teams can pick up their buzzer systems starting at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday in the North Central room (Entry Level). Except in emergency circumstances, NAQT will not be returning buzzer systems before 1:00 p.m.

NAQT will also be paying a $20 cash Early Buzzer Bonus for every buzzer system dropped off in the Conference Center foyer (Lobby Level) between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Friday. 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 p.m. on Friday. The bonus will be paid immediately, in cash, to whomever drops the buzzer off.

Teams may supply one or more qualified staff members for the tournament to earn discounts on their registration fees. Teams will receive a $50 discount for each staff member on Saturday and a $50 discount for each staff member on Sunday (for a total of $100 if the staff member works both days). Team-provided staff 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-provided staff members 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 person. (But it is 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 staff member to the SSNCT is March 23. 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 March 23 will not only forfeit the discount, but will be charged a $100 penalty to offset NAQT’s cost for finding a last-minute replacement.

In addition to earning discounts by providing staff for the SSNCT itself, schools may earn discounts on their SSNCT registration by providing staff for either (or both) of two of NAQT’s other national championships — the CCCT (Chicago) or the ICT powered by LetterOne (also in Chicago) — according to our cross-tournament discount program.

Team rosters may be changed at any time prior to the start of the SSNCT, 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 becomes known or changes.

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. in the Conference Center (Lobby Level) on Friday, April 27. One coach or chaperone for each team (not the entire team!) should go to the check-in area at some point on Friday evening. 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 coaches and chaperones 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 buzzer 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.

Note that all tournament activities (including check-in, scrimmages, and Early Buzzer Bonus drop-offs) will take place in the official hotel (the Hyatt Regency O'Hare) and not in the overflow hotel.

Teams that don’t arrive at the official hotel until Saturday morning can check in between 7:15 and 8:15 a.m. outside the Grand Ballroom. 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. 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 scrimmage should go to the scrimmage desk in the Conference Center foyer on the Entry Level (i.e., directly below the check-in area) to be assigned a time to play.

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 14 teams in the Traditional Public School division (all teams still playing in round 20) will receive a team trophy and their members will receive individual awards. The top 16 individual scorers in this division will receive All-Star awards and the top six freshmen and sophomores (who are not overall All-Stars) will receive Rising Star awards.

In addition to crowning an overall champion, the top six teams from Very Small Schools (those with 300 or fewer students in grades 10–12) will receive team trophies and their members will receive individual awards. These trophies will be determined by placement in the overall playoffs, with additional VSS playoff or placement games among teams eliminated in the same round to differentiate the top six places. (VSS teams that have been eliminated from the overall playoffs should go to the Information Desk to ascertain whether they have additional games to play. They should not immediately start playing consolation matches after being eliminated.)

The top ten teams in the Open division will receive a team trophy and their members will receive individual awards. The top 16 individual scorers in this division will receive All-Star awards and the top six freshmen and sophomores (who are not overall All-Stars) will receive 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.

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.

Teams that want to participate in the consolation rounds should go to the consolation organization area in the Conference Center (Lobby Level) at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. Those that have signed up for mini-tournaments will be dispatched to rooms; those that are waiting for ad hoc pairings will then be matched with an opponent and assigned to a room.

Two kinds of consolation rounds will be offered:

If rooms, buzzers, or staff 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.


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

Here is the shirt design:

The 2018 SSNCT t-shirt design


Teams will want to fly into one of the two major Chicago airports, either Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD; much more convenient) or Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW; much less convenient).

There is a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes to bring teams between the hotel and O’Hare. There is no such shuttle for Midway, from which trip a taxi to the hotel will cost approximately $35, or teams 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 official hotel for the tournament is the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Rooms with one king bed are available for $114 per night and rooms with two double beds are available for $122 per night provided they are booked using the NAQT group rate no later than April 8. You may book online or mention “NAQT” when making a reservation over the phone. 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.

The official hotel is out of rooms for Thursday night. Teams that need rooms on Thursday should book their entire stay at the overflow hotel (the Crowne Plaza O'Hare). Teams that only need rooms for Friday and/or Saturday should book at the official hotel (the Hyatt Regencey O'Hare).

As part of the contract negotiated by NAQT, the hotel will offer complimentary Internet access in guest rooms to tournament participants and their families.

Hyatt Regency O’Hare
9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
Phone: 847-696-1234
Fax: 847-698-0139


Parking at the official hotel is $15/day and includes in-and-out privileges. Teams traveling to the tournament in buses should contact the hotel in advance to discuss parking options.

To receive the discounted parking rate, teams staying at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare should bring their parking ticket to the hotel’s front desk for validation. Teams not staying at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare should validate their parking ticket at NAQT’s check-in desk (Friday) or at the Information Desk (Saturday and Sunday).

Overflow Hotel

NAQT has arranged for the Crowne Plaza O'Hare to serve as the overflow hotel for the tournament.

The official hotel (the Hyatt Regency O'Hare) still has rooms available on Friday and Saturday. Teams that only need rooms on one or both of those nights should book there. Teams should only book at the Crowne Plaza if they need rooms starting Thursday night.

The Crowne Plaza has rooms with one king bed available for $114/night and rooms with two double beds available for $122/night. Parking is $15/night and comes with in-and-out privileges. Guest room Internet is complimentary.

The hotel operates a free shuttle to O'Hare International Airport.

The Crowne Plaza is within an easy walk of the Hyatt Regency O'Hare.

To make reservations at the overflow hotel, call 877.810.5190 and say that you are with "National Academic Quiz Tournaments" (our group code is NCQ). Teams can also make reservations online.

Crowne Plaza O'Hare Hotel & Conference Center
5440 North River Road
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
Phone (general): 847-671-6350
Phone (reservations): 877-337-5793
Fax: 847.671.5406


The hotel has several restaurants offering different types of food at different prices.

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 away.

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, Bogart’s, Hofbräuhaus Chicago, and Fogo de Chão. These are more suited for evening meals and are a 12-minute walk away.

Teams can also order pizza or Chinese food and have it delivered to the hotel.


Spectators are welcome to attend all games at the SSNCT. No registration or tickets are required; feel free to just show up and watch as many of the games as you would like. If you are interested in starting a quiz bowl team at your college or high school, NAQT personnel will be on hand to talk about the process.


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 there, 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 the Cloud Gate 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 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 St 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 ssnct; please use this tag for all messages about the tournament.

Remember that question content for the championship cannot be posted online (or shared through other channels)! This means that team members, 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).

Relationship to the HSNCT

Small schools remain eligible and welcome to attend the 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 Material

Teams that have been invited to compete at the 2018 Small School National Championship Tournament 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.

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

Finally, teams 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.


Make checks payable to “NAQT” and send them to

National Academic Quiz Tournaments
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, e-mail ssnct@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 teams’ plans. If something’s not clear, let us know!

2018 Small School National Championship Tournament

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