"Triple Post", AKA Frequently Asked Questions About Formats for Southern California Quizbowlers
1. What is NAQT, and should I play it?
NAQT stands for National Academic Quiz Tournaments. It produces anywhere from 6 to 10 tournament sets a year, depending on demand and the number of active writers writing for them. NAQT's hallmarks are three to five line tossups, blind power marks in tossups, timed rounds, and up to 33% math calculation/geography/pop culture/current events/general knowledge. NAQT also runs the HSNCT, the most well-attended high school national tournament.
You should play NAQT if you like somewhat short pyramidal tossups, a decent-sized dosage of current events/pop culture/math calculation/geography in addition to standard academic fare, and a fast-paced game.
2. What is ACF, and should I play it?
ACF stands for Academic Competition Federation. It produces four sets of college tournaments a year. Although ACF does not produce any sets for high schools, the ACF 20/20 distribution of 4/4 literature, 4/4 history, 4/4 science, 3/3 arts, 2/2 religion/mythology/philosophy, 1/1 geography, 1/1 social science, and 1/1 other is increasing popular with high school tournaments.
You should play ACF if you feel you're ready for college-level tournaments or want to play against college students. In any case, ACF is a college format and you should certainly play it in college, but if a high school tournament is advertising itself as ACF then it's probably an independent tournament (see below) using the ACF distribution.
3. What is PACE, and should I play it?
PACE stands for Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence. It does not produce any regular season tournaments. Only HSAPQ (see below) produces tournament sets resembling the PACE format, which is used at the PACE NSC. The PACE format is a round of related tossups and 20-point bonuses, a "category quiz" containing tossups and 15-point categories where the team gets to choose the topic, and a stretch round containing 30-point bonuses and tossups with 20-point powers.
You should play PACE NSC if you like a relatively small, high-level field, lots of the people on this board, and almost entirely academic content.
4. What is HSAPQ, and should I play it?
HSAPQ stands for High School Pyramid Academic Questions. It produces four regular season tournaments each semester, and unlike NAQT and PACE, does not produce a national tournament. However, HSAPQ membership has a sizable overlap with PACE and similar philosophies. HSAPQ produces two ACF-style sets, one PACE-style set, and one Four Quarter set (see below) each semester.
You should play HSAPQ if you like a high degree of academic content and five-to-six line pyramidal questions in a variety of formats.
5. What are independent tournaments, and should I play them?
Independent tournaments are produced by schools or a few loosely affiliated individuals, instead of companies or organizations. Independent tournaments vary widely in the number of teams, the distribution, the format, and the quality of questions.
Popular reasons for attending independent tournaments include visiting colleges, playing out-of-area teams, and being able to discuss questions within a week of playing the tournament. You should play at least one or two independent tournaments if you can, though the format/distribution/quality of those tournaments is entirely dependent on who is hosting those tournaments and how those qualities line up with your preferences.
6. What is the four quarter format, and should I play it?
The four quarter format consists of four quarters. The most prominent form is a first quarter of tossups, a second quarter of tossups and bonuses, a third quarter with a category round/lightning round/give-and-take round/worksheet, and a fourth quarter with tossups only. Until recently the four quarter format was one of the major formats played across the nation.
While there is nothing inherently bad about the four quarter format, the quality and distribution of these tournaments is extremely variable. Like with independent tournaments, you should play at least one of these tournaments if you can, though the distribution/quality/difficulty will vary from tournament to tournament.
7. Do I have to choose between these formats?
In the sense that you have a limited amount of money to spend and a limited number of dates you can attend tournaments, yes. In theory, no! There is absolutely no rule by any company or organization that prohibits you from playing in tournaments run by their competitors. Of course every company is going to tell you to come to a tournament using their questions over a tournament using someone else's questions, but just about everyone who likes quizbowl will tell you to come to a tournament using a competitor's questions over no tournament at all.
I hope this clears up a few things regarding some of the format confusion. If there's demand for it, I'll post a cleaned-up version to the list. If there are other "frequently asked" questions that people have and that would likely be important for area quizbowlers to know answers to, I'll consider starting a monthly "Ask Dwight" feature on the mailing list.
UC Irvine 2008-2013; UCLA 2004-2007; Capistrano Valley High School 2000-2003
"It's a competition, but it's not a sport. On a scale, if football is a 10, then rowing would be a two. One would be Quiz Bowl." --Matt Birk on rowing, SI On Campus, 10/21/03
"If you were my teammate, I would have tossed your ass out the door so fast you'd be emitting Cerenkov radiation, but I'm not classy like Dwight." --Jerry