"How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

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"How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:23 pm

I've created this thread as the discussion thread for the "How to Host a Tournament" guide. The intention of that thread is to provide a community-created guide on how to host a high school tournament. That thread is intended to be as in depth as possible. As such, community help is requested.

I also request that all commentary and discussion be kept in this thread.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:47 pm

I won't comment at length, but one of the most important things a novice tournament director should know is how to change tournament schedules on a dime should there be no-shows or a team leaving before rebracketing or whatever. That means keeping tournament bracketing software handy if a team has access to an Internet connection or have an intuitive grasp of the format you've decided upon so that the schedule can be adjusted quickly to different situations. Also, having a moderator meeting for novice moderators is critical so that they know how to handle unusual situations in their games.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by dtaylor4 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:52 pm

One thing I've seen a number of TDs (even experienced ones) screw up is distributing moderators among prelim and playoff brackets. Novice TDs should consult those who know the crew of readers best, as incorrect placement can make a tournament drag longer than it should.

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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:05 pm

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:That means keeping tournament bracketing software handy if a team has access to an Internet connection or have an intuitive grasp of the format you've decided upon so that the schedule can be adjusted quickly to different situations.
Even better than this: I like to run tournaments with no dependence whatsoever on internet connections (or lack thereof). Thus: keep a schedule with blank team names for x-1, x-2, etc. numbers of teams. You can write in the names of what teams actually showed up and either make copies right away or (for a sufficiently small tournament) post a master copy in a central location.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Susan » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:43 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:That means keeping tournament bracketing software handy if a team has access to an Internet connection or have an intuitive grasp of the format you've decided upon so that the schedule can be adjusted quickly to different situations.
Even better than this: I like to run tournaments with no dependence whatsoever on internet connections (or lack thereof). Thus: keep a schedule with blank team names for x-1, x-2, etc. numbers of teams. You can write in the names of what teams actually showed up and either make copies right away or (for a sufficiently small tournament) post a master copy in a central location.
This is the way to do it.

More generally, always assume that a lot of people (teams and staffers both), if left to their own devices, will flake out on the tournament. Therefore you should email them a lot. For staffers, plan on sending out an email a couple of months before the tournament to solicit interest (this can be to your team listhost if you have one, but you should also email/message/whatever your potential staffers who aren't directly tied to your team (local alums, other quizbowl people in the area, etc.). For those people, it's even better if you can contact them individually rather than mass-message them. Recruit as many people as possible, even if you don't anticipate the tournament needing a ton of staffers. Do not assume that the tournament staff will magically appear on its own (or that a bunch of your team's freshmen will be able to moderate the tournament without some hiccups). When people sign up to help staff, get their cell phone numbers so that if they don't show up you can call them. After your initial email, remind people every couple of weeks that the tournament is coming, that they have signed up to staff, when and where they need to show up, and that you genuinely appreciate their help making the tournament happen. In the week before the tournament, it's not a bad idea to email all your staffers and ask them to confirm with you that they can still come. The day of the tournament, recognize that your staffers are giving up their time to make your event happen; treat them courteously, avoid putting them in stressful situations (which is to say, run your tournament competently so that your staffers aren't on the front lines dealing with unhappy players), feed them, thank them for coming, etc. Make sure you contact them after the fact to thank them for their help.

For teams, it's similar--get contact info, confirm with them that they're coming a few days before the tournament (this is when you should also remind them of how many buzzers and staffers they said they'd bring and check if those numbers are still true).
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:57 pm

1. Preparation - picking a date, picking a set
For picking a date...
Top priorities: Pick a date on which you and your facility are available. Pick a date on which there are not other tournaments nearby that share your audience. Pick a date on which your staffers are likely to be available. Make sure that at least one of the sets you are considering will be available.
Important considerations: Pick a date far enough off so that you can announce it and send out invitations at least two months in advance. Pick a date when your local circuit is active.
Worth considering: Pick a date which is not an SAT or ACT date. If teams are considering traveling to your tournament, find out what dates are good for them. If there are major non-quizbowl academic competitions in your area, try to avoid major dates for those competitions.

There is no such thing as a perfect date. If only one or two teams complain about your choice of date, it means that you probably picked a good date.

For picking a set...
First step: Figure out what audience your tournament is likely to attract. Is it a varsity tournament open to everybody, or is it some flavor of novice? Are some of the top teams in the country likely to show up or not?
Second step: If necessary, educate yourself about NAQT and HSAPQ, and find out about the general attitude towards them of teams in your area as well as availability. Make a decision about IS vs A vs HSAPQ vs independent vs housewrite. (This decision may not be that critical, but it's a decision you have to make. It will only be fatal if you choose to do a housewrite but can't pull it off well, and recommendations regarding housewrites probably are best left for other threads.)
Third step: If you are using an independent set, find a set that has received good reviews from people you trust. If the reviews are not in for this year, then find out about last year. If it is a new set, you are taking a chance if you use it the first or second weekend that it is available. To some extent, you are always taking a chance if you use a set the first weekend it is available unless you can make copies or email packets the night before or the morning of the tournament.

Throughout this process, keep in mind that while it is fine to consult teams in your area, in the end you need to choose a set that is educationally valid. There are a lot of teams and coaches that like bad questions, and they should not be catered to. Also, if there is some local format used only in your state, then there are not any good questions in that format, so don't waste your time trying to find them.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Coelacanth » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:18 am

Susan said just about everything I was going to say about how to recruit staffers. A further point of emphasis:

I (your potential staffer) like quizbowl. Really, it doesn't take much to get me to come help staff your tournament. A free lunch and a sincere thank you would probably do it. But I also have a life outside of quizbowl. If you email me the Tuesday before your Saturday event and ask me to help, chances are I've already made plans for that Saturday. If you reach out to me a month ahead of time, not only can I make time to come help you, I might be able to help recruit other staff or pitch in with some of the pre-tournament logistics.

I think college teams who host tournaments forget that not everyone's life is like theirs. College players have school, quizbowl, a social life that generally happens at night, and pretty much nothing else to worry about. They don't generally have spouses, children, housework, careers, etc.

Bottom line: recruit staff as early as possible. Tap into experienced quizbowl people in your area wherever possible. Your teams would rather have people like me reading for them than that freshman who comes to practice about once a month (if you are a college) or that gym teacher who owes you a favor because you ran the concession stand at the last track meet (if you are a high school).
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by jonpin » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:32 am

On the morning of the tournament, when you greet teams...
Teams give to you:
* Buzzers
* A check or cash, etc.
You give to teams:
* A receipt for their payment, if desired
* A copy of the schedule, assuming the field doesn't change.
* A map of the school, perhaps with game rooms specially labeled.
* A rules digest
* The tournament structure, so that there is no question who advances, etc., including tiebreaker procedures and playoff format

You should have printed out a list of the rooms being used with a space for the moderator in that room and the buzzer in that room. As teams drop off buzzers, enter them into a room and then send a staffer to set up the buzzers in that room and test them.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:59 am

Remember to spread out experienced and quality readers per bracket. While you obviously want high quality readers in the top bracket and it is okay to hide some of the weaker readers in lower brackets, the bottom bracket should not be entirely composed of weak readers or that bracket will become a morass of badly run, slow rounds.

As TD, I have noted that one has to become almost like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde persona--you have to be Dr. Jekyll with the teams and coaches, especially and I don't know how to say this without sounding crude, if they are looking to prejudge you because of past track record/race/experience, etc. But then you also have to be a bit of Mr. Hyde with your staffers--I'm not saying be a bully with them, but I have found that some staffers won't adjust what they are doing unless you demonstrate that it's a serious problem. If Staffer Q is letting teams chat after every question, you gotta let him know that's unacceptable. If someone flakes out or shows up late, you gotta let that person know that is unacceptable for future events (assuming this person is a team member).

TD's need to be able to make snap judgments quickly. I've seen TD's or as a TD, I have: booted someone from doing stats because they were too slow, started a tournament without all staffers because the staffers were late, switched rooms around because readers were slow, etc.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Mewto55555 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:04 pm

Make sure every team has a number to reach you at if they're running late/have to drop the morning of the tournament.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:07 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:Make sure every team has a number to reach you at if they're running late/have to drop the morning of the tournament.
The other half of this is to make sure as many teams as possible give you a number that you can call on the morning of the tournament.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:24 pm

2. Recruitment
Several people have already done a good job of talking about recruiting and retaining staff.

To get teams to show up, the best method currently is email. It was snail mail until recently, but that is no longer the case. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using both email and snail mail, and phone calls are good too. Figure out which teams you want to come to your tournament, and send them a message. Make sure the message is very clear about how teams should register and pay for the tournament in addition to what the costs/discounts are. Send the message approximately two months before the tournament, and reply quickly to whatever queries you get. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a follow-up message or two about a month before the tournament to teams that did not register reminding them that space is still available.

Getting listed on whatever calendar exists for your region and posting on QRC and QRD are helpful, but those actions do not attract nearly as many teams as email. There probably is somebody in your area who has email addresses for a lot of coaches, and you should take advantage of that. You can also get email addresses through google or listings on your state's athletic association website.

In your message to teams, it is helpful to tell them where the questions are coming from, what the general format is, and how lunch is being handled. You should also state your expectation that they will play quizbowl throughout the morning and most of the afternoon. When teams register, they should give you an email address so that you can reach them a few days before the tournament and an emergency phone number so that you can reach them the morning of the tournament.

A week or two before the tournament, registered teams should get a message with the time to show up, the address, and whether or not you have received their money.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:31 pm

ether a go-go wrote:To get teams to show up, the best method currently is email. It was snail mail until recently, but that is no longer the case.
I'll add my usual caveat to this, which is that it's true if and only if:
1) you actually have a current e-mail list of coaches in your area, who
1a) expect to receive tournament announcements by e-mail and are getting something they will open (whether that means, "oh, this is from Local University Quizbowl Club President X, I recognize him/her" or "the subject line is Example State University Quizbowl Invitational rather than STUPIDACRONYM so I know what this is about").

If you have a state association that maintains an up-to-date list of coaches' emails and lots of coaches who are aware that invitational tournaments are a thing and will open emails, great. If, like most people around the country, you have only one or zero of these things, then using a rapidly decaying email list is not going to be enough. Yes, you should hoard the contacts you get and do your best to keep them up to date, but if like most of us you are trying to get teams that only play television/state series events or are not fully formed yet at all to come to their first Saturday tournament, you're going to have a hard time doing it by e-mail alone because you don't have e-mails for the people you are targeting.

As in all things, the results will speak for themselves. If you fill a 60-team field with e-mail, you're probably doing OK. If you aren't meeting your capacity, your e-mail to 100 people sends 30 bounces back to you, or you have no contact info at all for schools in your target geographical area, get the stamps out.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Jason Cheng » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:20 pm

Many of us at socalquizbowl.org have done something similar with this lengthy, work-in-progress guide started by Chris Chiego and Dwight Wynne over here:

http://www.socalquizbowl.org/comprehens ... ing-guide/
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by tiwonge » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:51 pm

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:I won't comment at length, but one of the most important things a novice tournament director should know is how to change tournament schedules on a dime should there be no-shows or a team leaving before rebracketing or whatever. That means keeping tournament bracketing software handy if a team has access to an Internet connection or have an intuitive grasp of the format you've decided upon so that the schedule can be adjusted quickly to different situations. Also, having a moderator meeting for novice moderators is critical so that they know how to handle unusual situations in their games.
Where can such tournament bracketing software be found?
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:07 pm

Is this guide actually happening?
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:24 pm

Yeah, I'm going to try to post a part a weekend. I'm working on the first one right now.
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Re: "How to Host a Tournament" Discussion - All Commentary Here!

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:54 pm

I just posted a short section on how to pick the date for your tournament. You can read it here. Feel free to post feedback in this thread.
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