The Kentucky Collegiate Quick Recall League

Hosting a Tournament


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By Carol Grizzard, Pikeville College


Putting on a KCQRL tournament isn't difficult. There are a lot of details, but none of them are huge. In this booklet you'll find a list of things to do and a time frame for doing them along with the job descriptions of moderators, judges, spotter/timers, and scorekeepers to give your volunteers. There are suggestions for ways to make your tournament run smoothly and ideas for things you can do to prepare for the unexpected. The standardized draws used at every tournament are at the back.

Hosting a tournament is a great way to let your school see what your team is doing (usually others don't have much idea of what an academic competition is like). It can help recruiting. It can give your faculty and staff a chance to contribute to campus activity (something administrators are always glad to see). And when it's over, all you have to do is pay back the favors you now owe.


The League will set the calendar for each year at the last tournament of the year before. This is usually in April. You should check the Master Calendar for your school to see what dates would be best for your tournament, making sure that 1) the space you need is available, and 2) there are no other activities going on that weekend that might make it hard for you to get volunteers. You should also think about what else will be going on in your area on that weekend. Are there ball games or festivals that might make it difficult for teams to find motel space? Come to the meeting with several possible dates in case the first one or two are taken by other schools.


Once the League has set the calendar, make sure you get yours on your college schedule. If it turns out that the date is not free after all, let the League president know as soon as possible. This may enable another tournament to be scheduled; it may also let you find a different date to host.


Make sure that your team knows the dates of all of the scheduled tournaments, especially yours. If you have given a tournament before, let your previous volunteers know the date so they can hold it.

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: 1 Reserve rooms on campus (including check-in area and space big enough for draw and award presentations)
2 Provide for brand new questions, either by ordering or by asking faculty to write them
3 Order trophies 
ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE: 4 Send out invitations
5 Send out campus-wide letter asking for volunteers
6 Discuss room set-ups with physical plant
7 Provide for refreshments in the morning
TWO WEEKS IN ADVANCE: 8 Begin assembling packets for each team attending the tournament
9 Begin assembling packets for each room used in the tournament
10 Check the questions for errors; if possible, have people in other fields do so as well
11 Xerox off questions and personally give them to moderators and judges
12 Let all of your volunteers know what they=ll be doing (include all job descriptions and League rules in your mailing)
13 Plan at least one team practice for your volunteers to attend so they can see and practice what they=ll be doing. 
ONE WEEK IN ADVANCE: 14 Put list of attending teams on the listserve
15 Prepare draws and nameplates for each team
16 Give each team member a room to help set up on the tournament day


1. Reserve more rooms than you think you'll need; it is easier to cancel later than to add on. If you wait until you know for sure how many teams are coming before you reserve rooms, there may be no rooms.

2. Whether you order or write questions, remember a) no multiple choice questions; b) questions requiring first names and/or multiple answers must say so at the beginning; c) the questions must be 20% each from humanities, science, social science, math, and general knowledge. The general knowledge questions should not fall into the first four fields; current events and pop culture would be in this category. Some places require up to two months to customize questions in this way. No matter where your questions come from, they must be kept confidential.

3. You will need 4-6 trophies (depending on whether or not you give out third place trophies).

4. This may seem ridiculously early, but some of us have run into situations where invitations came so late we were unable to make motel reservations. If you send out a late invitation during another school's fall or spring break, that means they have even less time. Giving a month's notice should eliminate that problem. If some League members are not on the KCQRL listserve, be sure you send snail mail invitations to them before putting out the listserve invitation. Do acknowledge every response so schools can be sure their email hasn't gotten lost in cyberspace. Your invitation should contain a) date; b) directions from anywhere in KY; c) nearby motels and phone numbers; d) a phone number that teams can reach you with on the day of the tournament (if they're running late or suddenly having to cancel or family members need to reach them). You might also want to include a date beyond which you will not accept registrations (we all understand that if the tournament fills before that date, you'll stop then).

5. Sending a campus-wide letter (with date and times) may bring in some volunteers you'd never think to ask. Make sure you have a chief official (with many reference works) to whom all protests can be sent. When you place your volunteers in rooms, try to have people from different fields (instead of having all the literature people in one room and all the mathletes in another).

6. Each room should have movable tables or desks that can be set up close enough to each other and to an electric outlet to allow the buzzer system to be plugged in. Make sure your physical plant people know when we'll be through so they can get the rooms back in shape for Monday.

7. You may be able to get doughnuts/coffee/fruit/whatever from your campus meal service for free, but they may need a lot of warning. If you're buying them at a store on your way in that morning, obviously there's no need to worry about it this early. Plan on having them available by 8:45.

8. Start this early because there's a lot of Xeroxing involved! You won't finish until the week of the tournament, but spreading it out makes it simpler.

Each team packet will need:  ___ 6 score sheets
___ a copy of the League rules
___ a team name plate
___ a list of places for lunch and directions if necessary
___ a copy of the draw (including ones for both divisions 
since many schools will be bringing two teams). 

You should include a draw based on the number of teams registered AND one for one number less, in case one team doesn't make it. Since we have adopted standardized draws, this is relatively simple. Each draw should be clearly labeled "Division 1" or "Division 2" and include room numbers and times.

9. Each room packet will need: ___12 pencils,
___ 100 sheets of paper
___ 10 scoresheets
___ a copy of the League rules
___ copies of both draws (see comments above)
___ a working stopwatch (in case the buzzer system doesn't work)

10-11. This is the most effective way to avoid massive protests! Ask the moderators and judges to check the questions for errors and note questions they may have (about pronunciation, for instance) and bring them (and their tournament questions) to the tournament; you will have a meeting that morning and corrections will be discussed. Make sure the officials understand that the questions must be kept confidential.

12, 13. Giving the volunteers time to familiarize themselves with what they'll be doing eases their anxiety and makes the tournament run more smoothly. The job descriptions follow this section.

14. This double checks your records: who's coming, who's bringing two teams, etc. Having an unexpected team show up is not a pleasant surprise.

15. Use the standardized draws included in this booklet. Note the times on these draws. Again, always include one to be used in case a team doesn't come at the last minute.

16. Your team members should be responsible for specific rooms, a) to check that they are set up properly; b) to set up buzzer systems as they arrive; c) to put away buzzer systems as teams leave; and d) to clean up trash and leave the room in whatever condition it needs to be in.



1) Start each match on time. Be sure that the correct teams are in the room. Check the buzzers and find out who the captains are before you begin.

2) Read questions slowly and clearly. Do NOT look at the players; the spotter must recognize them and if you make eye contact, it may confuse them.

3) On your copy, mark toss-ups "T-1," "T-2" and bonuses "B-1," etc., as you read. This makes it easier to identify what question a team is protesting.

4) If a team buzzes in on a toss-up and answers correctly, say "That is correct" and ask that team a bonus question. If the answer given to a toss-up that's been read in its entirety is incorrect, say so and immediately ask the other team if they have an answer (if they haven't already buzzed in). They have two seconds to respond. YOU time that (just count). If no one gives the correct answer and time is up, you give it. You may ask a student to repeat an answer (and they must do so exactly) but you may never ask for more information.

5) If you inadvertently give an answer to a toss-up when one team has answered but the other has not had a chance to answer, you must ask another toss-up solely to that team.

6) Stop reading AS SOON as you hear a buzzer, even if you're in the middle of a word. If the answer given is incorrect, say "That is incorrect and that is an interrupt" so the scorekeeper will know to deduct one point. Then reread the entire question for the other team. If they interrupt, they also lose one point.

7) If a player answers on a toss-up without being recognized, refuse to accept the answer without commenting on whether or not it is correct. If a player hesitates before answering, say "Hesitation!" and, if they answer as you say it, refuse to accept the answer without commenting on whether or not it is correct.

8) We tend to be fairly liberal where pronunciation is concerned, especially of non-English words. The general guide is that the student should have the correct consonants and the correct number of syllables unless a word is mispronounced to the point that it could be an entirely different answer ("Monet" and "Manet").

9) During the match, coaches may call "Procedure!" in order to discuss a perceived hesitation that you have not called or something similar. This is permissible; if you wait until the half, no one will remember if the student hesitated or not. Resolve this now. If coaches want to discuss the acceptability of an answer, tell them they must wait until the end of the half.

10) Whenever a team answers a toss-up question correctly, ask a bonus just for them. When the spotter says time is up, immediately ask the captain for an answer. You may not accept an answer from any other player.

11) In each half, ask the scorekeeper to read the score after the tenth toss-up (and bonus if there is one).

12) Stay at the front of the room during the half and immediately after the match to handle protests (no protest from the first half can be initiated after the match is over).  Both coaches must be made aware of any protests.  Any that cannot be resolved in the room (this would automatically include any that haven't been resolved in the five minutes of the half) must be sent in writing to the Chief Official.  The second half should start on time.  If you've sent a protest out of the room, you can wait until the end of the second half to find out how it was resolved.  This decision is final.

13) Keep your questions with you at all times unless you can lock them up somewhere.  Never leave them lying around.

14) Before the teams leave at the end of the match, make sure they know where they're supposed to be next.


1) You are there to assist the moderator.  His or her decision, however, is final within the room.  If a decision cannot be made there, the protest is sent out of the room to the Chief Official.

2) Make sure that the moderator is reading Round 1 questions for the first match, Round 2 for the second, and so forth.

3) Read along as the moderator asks the questions and if he or she makes a mistake, say so at once.

4) Mark toss-ups "T-1," "T-2," etc., and bonuses "B-1," etc.,  on your copy so that if there's a protest, we can agree on what question is at issue.

5) Stay with the moderator during the half and immediately after the match in order to advise on any protests.

6) Keep the questions with you all day unless you can lock them up somewhere.  Never leave them lying around.


1) Allow five seconds for each toss-up question and ten for each bonus.  Say "Time" when time is up.

2) Whenever a player buzzes in, you must immediately recognize that player either by school ("Pikeville 3") or by buzzer color ("red 3").  If a player answers before you have recognized him or her, say so at once.

3) Time the half.  It's exactly five minutes.  Make sure the moderator knows when it's up.


1) Make sure that you have filled in the round, the division, and the names of the schools competing.

2) Use the left-hand column for both teams in the first half and the right-hand column for both teams in the second.  Score two points for each correctly answered toss-up and each correctly answered bonus.  Add the score as you go along.

3) Deduct one point for each incorrect interrupt.  If you are not sure whether the player interrupted, ask the moderator immediately.

4) Give the score after ten toss-ups in each half.

5) Get the coaches' signatures after the match and bring the scoresheet to the central record-keeping area at once, checking to make sure that all the information is correctly filled out.


1.  You and your team should be there by 8:30 to check on last-minute details and to welcome any early arrivals.  Refreshments should be available by 8:45.

2.  Someone should be at the sign-in table with the team envelopes to receive checks and answer questions.  This person should be prepared to write out receipts if necessary and to keep a list of whose buzzer system is in which room.  The team members should make this table their headquarters, since they will be in charge of the buzzer systems.

3.  Have a meeting of all officials at 9:00 to handle questions about rules and procedure.  The moderators and judges should also go over questions about and corrections to the questions.  This will take about half an hour.  Remember that sometimes it is easier to eliminate a question than to rewrite it.

 4.  The draw should begin at 9:30.  If possible, have the officials' meeting and the draw run by different people to save time.  If there are an odd number of teams in either division, remember that the team with the lowest League record is "A" so that they have more opportunities to play (and hopefully to improve).  Announce where the chief official and the tournament scores will be.

5.  Keep the scores in an easily accessible place, since coaches and players will want to check on their progress (as well as that of their rivals).  Make sure that you display the results in a way that makes clear not only who won and who lost but also who played whom.

6.  Check and double check the final standings to make sure that you give the trophies to the correct teams.

7.  After everyone has gone, have a drink.  It is not advisable to do this until we have all left unless you share.


1.  Write thank-you letters to your volunteers, physical plant, caterers, and anyone else whose goodwill you want to keep for next year.

2.  Write your college/university president and list by name all those who worked at the tournament.

3.  If there are things you think you should have done differently, write them down now while you remember them.

4.  Remember that the first tournament is the hardest.  Now that volunteers have been trained, each succeeding year will be easier. 

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