UKQB tournament hosting guide

The following is a brief list of things necessary to successfully host a quizbowl tournament along with a guide for new tournament organisers.

What you need to host a tournament

  • Rooms:
    • Essential:
      • For an N team tournament, at least N/2 game rooms (rounding up) each equipped with tables and seats for both teams and moderators, at least two power outlets and isolated from outside noise.
      • Reliable internet access for moderators.
      • Consideration of appropriate accessibility requirements.
    • Desired:
      • Large assembly room that can hold all participants at the same time and can be used for briefings and the final(s).
      • Game rooms should be as close together as possible.
      • Access to all rooms should be arranged for participants to be as easy as possible (e.g., avoid situations when a keycard is needed for access).
      • Dedicated non-game room to act as a ‘command centre’ for the tournament director and stats director (can double as a bye room).
  • Location:
    • Desired:
      • Tournament location is easily reachable by public transport (ideally, walking distance from the train station).
      • Parking options have been researched.
      • There are lunch options close to the tournament location (ideally <10 minutes on foot) or other options researched.
  • Moderators:
    • Essential:
      • At least one experienced moderator in each of the game rooms with a reading device with an internet connection (preferably a laptop).
      • Dedicated tournament director to oversee the rest of the moderators and to deal with emergencies.
      • A back-up for question distribution, e.g. a memory stick.
      • A dedicated safeguarding officer who can act immediately if needed.
    • Desired:
      • At least one non-reading moderator with a laptop in charge of statistics and rebracketing (can double as TD; should be comfortable with SQBS or other quizbowl statistics software).
      • Ideal number of moderators per game room is two – a reader and a scorer – who can swap roles during the day.
  • Buzzers:
    • Essential:
      • At least one working buzzer set with lockout and at least eight buzzers per game room.
      • The majority of buzzer sets are traditionally brought by participating teams in exchange for a small discount.
      • At least one spare buzzer set.

The initial setup

  1. UKQB Tournaments Officer will put relevant UKQB people in a group chat with your society and establish who is to contact the set writers (usually this is up to the host society).
  2. Arrange a Facebook event as soon as possible (minimum 4 weeks in advance) – ensure that a rep from the hosting society/the host account and the UKQB account are co-hosts.
  3. The announcement needs to include:
    • The date.
    • A sensible start time (convention is that games start at 9:30 when online, 10 am in person, so teams should show up half an hour earlier for a briefing, to account for unavoidable travel delays, etc.);
    • Eligibility restrictions – is it a student tournament? An open? Are there any further restrictions (e.g., for novice tournaments).
    • Fee structure: a base cost plus discounts – this can be discussed at the time, but generally for in-person events you want discounts for providing buzzers, moderators, and potentially travel distance; other possibles include short-handed and “new to quizbowl” discounts (and explain who actually qualifies for it, too!). The moderator discount is £25 – it is a standard rate to get people to show up and mod, but mods are of course free not to claim it, and some don’t. For ACF tournaments, the hosts will need to agree a fee structure with ACF.
    • Travel and lunch logistics for in-person events.
    • A field cap (it’s good to have some idea of how many available moderators there are first!) – this can be expanded (or should be stated that it is a hard cap), but dealing with oversubscribed tournaments is a lot more difficult than those with a waiting list.
    • The distribution – either the full distro or a link to it, and also some indication regarding whether the set is Briticised or not.
    • A link to a previous recent tournament that might be similar in style or difficulty, if possible.
    • A link to a sign-up form! Make sure it has a team name (and letter, if applicable), a contact email, and ideally a phone number (more important for in-person). Roster information doesn’t need to be submitted on signup, but the TD needs to remember to follow up with the club for this information in the run-up to the event, via the contact email or otherwise, and this should have a hard deadline of at least 48 hours before the tournament to allow for seeding.
    • Are there any packet submission instructions? This should be on the event, even though societies are likely to know about it beforehand.
    • Are there PPG restrictions? Discuss with UKQB if unsure.
    • Include a separate form link for freelance moderators to sign up – ideally they should be compensated with around £25 for their time/expenses, and this should be mentioned by the link.
  4. Promote the event – social media is usually pretty effective (definitely have the UKQB Facebook account share the event, and you can use the Instagram as well), but we can also contact society reps, and inform people at briefings of other tournaments what is coming up later in the term.
  5. Post a field list on the event page discussion, ideally with a numerical counter up to the field cap, and keep this updated! Either alphabetising or keeping teams in signup order is fine. It’s vital that this exists to confirm to teams that they have actually signed up – either that or drop them an email to confirm (or do both!).
  6. If it’s an in-person event, the rooms need to be reasonably secured by the announcement of the tournament, and will likely determine the field cap (that or number of moderators in cases with lots of available rooms).
  7. Similarly, for in-person events you will need to source enough buzzers to meet the requirements above.
  8. Online events are limited by two things:
    • Are there enough moderators for the field you want to run? Some moderators are capable of managing a room solo, others will need some help, and this is worth bearing in mind.
    • Can you get a large enough Zoom lobby? Most premium accounts have a cap of 100 people, but this can be circumvented by getting access to a 300-person enterprise account – some institutions have access to this, so UKQB can possibly arrange for another club to provide a link. There are also solutions involving the Large Meeting add-on (very expensive) or using multiple premium Zoom accounts to cover different brackets (a bit complicated and needs to be well-communicated to all the teams in advance if so). The 100-person cap realistically comes into play when tournaments approach around 18 teams (though there are moderators, support staff and stragglers to consider, so it could be 16 teams).

Approaching the tournament

  1. Ensure that the editors of the tournament have confirmed that they will send the packets, provide them with a secure contact email address for this purpose and arrange a time that you expect them to have arrived – ideally not at 5 am on the morning of the tournament, because Americans often forget that timezones exist during set production crunch.
  2. Make sure you confirm with your moderators that they are still going to be available – ideally at least a week before, because you will struggle to run the day without them and finding late replacements is not always simple. Similarly, confirm that teams/individuals who have said they are bringing buzzers remember to bring them!
  3. Sometimes teams do drop out late and this can be unavoidable, but should be strongly discouraged. Do keep in touch with club representatives to make sure you’re at least prepared for the possibility. Keep the waiting list in the loop where possible.
  4. Plan a schedule – UKQB can offer advice on what format works best for a given field cap, but this needs to be generated ahead of time and posted to the Facebook event and sent around in a logistics email. Generating round robins with is very simple (using numbers or alphanumeric codes to represent teams is usually fine because you can use Find & Replace in Word/Excel to add team names in later); there is one quirk, which is that it doesn’t distribute teams between rooms very well (usually team 5 ends up in room 1 for every game) so it's best to do some manual rearranging and checking that every team gets to move around between rooms and mods.
  5. Plan how to distribute the questions to moderators – either send all packets in advance (so mods can practise if needed) or put in a drive to upload packet-by-packet. Check with moderators for access requirements.
  6. Arrange prizes – it is good practice to get book prizes for larger tournaments – for the winning team, some amount of top individual scorers and possibly the runners-up. Cheap second-hand charity shop books are highly recommended for this - it’s probably best to avoid stuff that’s public domain already for the most part, but try to find books that seem like they would be of interest to those playing a general knowledge academic quiz event.