Checklist for Tournament Directors

This is a checklist for directing a quizbowl tournament. It is written for small high school tournaments in Ontario, though most of it would apply to any tournament.

The tasks in (brackets) are encouraged but inessential — many successful tournaments are run without those measures. Use your own judgment.

If this list is overwhelming, then ignore the items in brackets, and make other experienced people work on the tournament with you. Most quizbowlers should have some enthusiasm for helping with tournaments.

We recommend that you print this list out and work with a physical copy of it.


  • ❑ Talk to whoever coordinates quizbowl in your area.
  • ❑ Set the date.
  • ❑ Book the venue.
  • ❑ Find a question set. Secure permission to mirror the question set.
  • ❑ Figure out the pricing.
  • ❑ Add your tournament to the HSQB database.
  • ❑ Announce the tournament — post to HSQB.
  • ❑ Announce the tournament — post to relevant Facebook groups.
  • ❑ Announce the tournament — email schools around.
  • ❑ Plan your staff. Minimum of 1 reader for every 2 teams, plus yourself in HQ all day.
  • ❑ Make sure there’s a treasury.

                    Two Weeks Before
  • ❑ (Send reminder email to target schools.)
  • ❑ Plan some kind of prizes.
  • ❑ Confirm that you’ll have enough staff.
  • ❑ Verify your room bookings.
  • ❑ Send reminder email to any teams that only half-registered.
  • ❑ Check on the official rules for your tournament.
  • ❑ Confirm that you have a question set.
  • ❑ Check that you have enough buzzers.
                    Week Before
  • ❑ Draw up staff assignments — readers, statkeeper if the field is big, scorekeepers if possible. Try to have the TD in HQ all day.
  • ❑ Staff email: Send assignments, question packets, and the rules. Get their phone numbers. Tell them to bring laptops. (If you have extra volunteers, invite them to attend on standby.)
  • ❑ Teams email: Field, logistics, parking info. Ask for rosters and phone numbers.
  • ❑ Get your prizes.

                    Day Before
  • ❑ (Get some nametags.)
  • ❑ (Purchase candy for the tournament.)
  • ❑ (Print the questions for any readers who insisted on printed questions.)
  • ❑ Make a round-by-round schedule and print many copies.
  • ❑ Make backup schedules for -2, -1, and +1 teams.
  • ❑ Make and print blank receipts and invoices.
  • ❑ Print scoresheets and copies of the rules
  • ❑ (Make and print feedback surveys, and flyers for the next tournament after yours.)
  • ❑ Check that a stats computer has SQBS on it.

                    Night Before
  • ❑ Put the questions on a USB drive.
  • ❑ Pack masking tape, prizes, schedules, receipts, invoices, scoresheets, rules sheets, scrap paper, USB drive, and any buzzers you’re bringing.
  • ❑ (Pack printed questions, nametags, pens, candy, surveys, flyers, staff gifts, and a printer.)

  • ❑ Arrive very early.
  • ❑ Make sure the rooms are unlocked.
  • ❑ Set up tournament HQ and registration.
  • ❑ (Print signs and tape up signs around the building.)
  • ❑ (Make the staff wear nametags.)
  • ❑ Assign a staffer to collect money. Make sure that person keeps a record of money received.
  • ❑ (Assign a staffer to do check-in with every team. Have them hand out rules sheets to teams.)
  • ❑ Assign a staffer to ensure buzzers and scoresheets in every room. That person must keep a record of whose buzzers are in which rooms.
  • ❑ (Assign extra staff to set up signs and buzzers and move furniture, or to visit any new teams.)
  • ❑ Assign staff their rooms for the day.
  • ❑ Morning meeting: Yell to the teams about schedule and any rules reminders.
  • ❑ Hand out schedules to teams.
  • ❑ Send teams to their rooms.

                    During Tournament
  • ❑ Keep TD or statkeeper at HQ.
  • ❑ (Dismiss your standby volunteers or invite them to do photos and coverage.)
  • ❑ (If the TD is reading, put them in the room next to HQ.)
  • ❑ (Have HQ track how long the rounds take.)
  • ❑ (Sub out whichever reader is the slowest. Have them switch jobs with a scorekeeper.)
  • ❑ (Keep a simple tally of teams’ records so you can re-bracket them quickly when it is time for that.)

                    At Lunch

  • ❑ Clearly announce to all rooms when lunch begins and ends.
  • ❑ (Assign a staffer to lead teams to nearby food.)
  • ❑ (Make sure no idiots left laptops unattended.)
  • ❑ (Print standings and top scorers and tape those up in the halls.)
  • ❑ (Drop feedback surveys and next-tournament flyers in the rooms.)
  • ❑ (Distribute candy to the rooms.)

                    After the Tournament

  • ❑ (Invite teams to watch the final.)
  • ❑ Have awards and clapping.
  • ❑ Make the staff clean up their own rooms and put furniture back.
  • ❑ (Give the staff their gifts.)
  • ❑ Survey the rooms for messes or lost items.
  • ❑ Post the stats to your database page.
  • ❑ Send a wrap-up / recap email to the teams.
  • ❑ Make sure the money goes where it’s supposed to.
  • ❑ Ask the club to pay back any expenses you incurred.
This checklist steals ideas from Chris Chiego’s hosting guidethis HSQB threadBryn Reinecke’s TD checklist, the Berkeley TD guide, and the QBWiki’s “How to Run a Tournament.” It is intended to be useful, complete, and concise. I welcome suggestions in the comments about improving this checklist.

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