This page is designed to be a reference for anyone who's serving as a tournament director (TD, for short). It has some Berkeley-centric advice, but hopefully its lessons are applicable to all who are interested.
This guide assumes that the questions are being dealt with by another party, either a separate packet editor or an external supplier (e.g., NAQT). If you happen to be both a packet editor and a TD, then you should pay special attention to Tip #1.
Tip #1: Do not be afraid to delegate! There are a lot of duties that a TD has, but many of them can be easily farmed out. For instance, the procurement of food and prizes are ideal tasks to give to other people.
The overall task of a TD may seem daunting, and there is a lot to do, but none of the individual responsibilities is particularly difficult. It's just making sure that all of the individual things get done that is the difficult part. So assigning some of the tasks to others will increase the chances of a successful tournament.
A TD should make sure that each of the following will be coming to the tournament:
Obviously, having teams to play is the most important part of a tournament, and so communication with the teams is the most important pre-tournament responsibility of the TD. This includes:
Without staff, your tournament won't get very far, so you need to make sure that you have sufficient people on hand.
In Berkeley tournaments, the TD almost always ends up moderating. For larger tournaments, you should think about having the TD unencumbered by moderating duties so that they can be available whenever a problem strikes.
Unless you have a bunch of teams who enjoy playing slap-bowl, you'll also need some inanimate objects.
Finally, you'll need somewhere where your players can be sheltered from the elements. At Berkeley, TDs have an unfortunate habit of waiting until the last minute possible to reserve rooms (thanks to the convenience of the online room reservation system); this practice is discouraged, since if something does go wrong, you are now seriously up the creek. You should schedule rooms as soon as you have a rough idea how many teams will be attending. Don't be afraid to overschedule, since extra rooms don't cost us anything (yet...); similarly, you should always reserve rooms for the longest possible time, just in case. You will need one room per game room, plus one large room suitable for meeting at the beginning and end, plus one spare room (to deal with locked or otherwise inaccessible rooms, or for scrimmages).
For more detailed advice on reserving rooms at Berkeley for quizbowl, see my Berkeley Room Reservation Guide.
Immediately after receiving the packets, you should scan them to make sure that there are no gross errors (missing pages, less than the necessary number of questions, printed in Cyrillic, etc.) If there are, you should contact the packet provider immediately to resolve them.
Some TDs prefer running "paperless" tournaments by having the packets on laptops. Your guide writer is personally not a fan of this practice, since (a) it's more work for the moderators and (b) it introduces another potential point of failure. However, for some TDs the convenience (and cheapness) factor outweighs these considerations. If you are running a paperless tournament, you will, of course, also need to secure at least one computer per game room.
For paper tournaments: My rule of thumb is to always have P+1 packets for R+1 rooms. That is, you should have an entire complete set of spares, and you should always have a full number of copies of at least one extra packet. If you have other extra packets, of course, then you should bring at least one copy of each of these as well.
After printing and copying the questions, you should double-check them again to make sure that all pages copied correctly, no pages were eaten by the copier, all copies are readable, etc. I also strongly recommend stapling the individual packets; this step is often omitted by lazy TDs, but it makes sure that packets stay together. If you don't staple the questions, and you should happen to drop the pile of packets while carrying it to the tournament, you are in for a world of pain. Especially if it's a windy day.
For paperless tournaments: For the sake of question security, you should not load the questions onto the laptops until tournament day. Probably the most convenient and foolproof way to deal with this is to load the questions onto a USB memory stick and copy them onto each computer from the stick during the setup process. (You should make sure that all of the computers have USB ports, of course. In this day and age it's extremely unlikely for a laptop to not have a USB port, but you never know.) I strongly, strongly recommend having at least one paper set as well to serve as a backup in case of computer troubles.
In either case, all packets should be clearly marked with the tournament name, packet writer(s), and round number. Moderators accidentally reading the wrong packet is one of the gravest threats to a well-run tournament, so you should make sure to minimize the risk of this by making sure that the round that each packet should be read in is very, very clearly defined. Obviously, it's simplest to just mark a big number on your paper packets or type "ROUND X" at the top of each of your files. If you can't do this (for instance, you're running a strange schedule in which a packet may be used in more than one round), make sure that everything is laid out as clearly as possible on the schedule.
Actually drawing up the schedule is a difficult task worthy of its own page, so I won't discuss it here.
The schedule should include, at a minimum, the following:
After drawing up the schedule, please double-check it for consistency (to make sure you don't have one team playing in two places at the same time, etc.). It's even better if you can get someone else to do this cross-check, since it's easy to miss mistakes on something that you've just been working on.
You should make enough copies of the schedule for at least one for each team and one for every moderator (helpful tip: when laying the stack of schedules out on the table, hold back the ones for the moderators yourself so that greedy teams won't snatch up all of the schedules before the moderators have a chance to get one). This is just a minimum, of course; there's no real downside to making bunches of extra copies.
If you're running a complicated tournament (e.g., with more than one building involved), it is a very good idea to put a small map on the schedule so that teams don't get lost or confused. Even for tournaments just in Barrows, I like to put a map of Barrows on the schedule. Every little bit of time saved helps.
If your schedule involves playoffs, you should explain the playoff system in the schedule. Make sure that you have a tiebreaking procedure decided on and specified in the schedule as well. Also, you should make sure to specify whether records reset with the beginning of playoffs, or whether cumulative records through the whole tournament will be used.
You should also have contingency plans in case a team (or worse, a moderator) doesn't show up. In the best case, this is an entire schedule prepared for the case of one fewer team. At the least, you should be prepared to draw up a replacement schedule on the fly.
For most invitational tournaments we run, a short paragraph or so on the schedule is sufficient to describe the rules. You should at least mention the following items:
For NAQT tournaments, you'll need a bit more paper: each moderator should have a copy of the official NAQT rules, and you should also have copies available for interested teams (one per team is probably overkill, but you should have at least some copies available).
In all cases, you should make sure that you have access to a full copy of the rules being used in case you need to refer to them to resolve a protest.
Make sure that this information is conveyed to the moderators too. Especially the number of questions per round. This often gets overlooked because it's so fundamental, but if you hand ten moderators a packet with 22 questions with the intent to read 20 and keep 2 for tiebreakers, more than one will read all 22 questions if you don't tell them otherwise.
Scoresheets are a simple enough detail -- just print out enough copies (at least maximum number of rounds times number of rooms, plus some spares) of your favorite kind of scoresheet. We conveniently have a standard scoresheet (Word format) here. If you prefer (not that I know anyone who does), you can also use the standard NAQT scoresheet (PDF format). You can also make your own, if you are so inclined, but please at least look at one of the previous scoresheets so you know what to include.
If you want to collect money from teams, it's probably a good idea to have invoices to hand them. This is something you can delegate to the treasurer (or someone else), of course. Once again, we have provided a sample invoice (Word format). If you want to use this invoice, change the information in all caps, and make sure to change the numbers to reflect your actual fee structure.
Nine times out of ten, you won't need this. But when you do need it, it's a useful talisman to open locked doors and repel other claimants to your precious rooms.
At Berkeley tournaments, we typically go the low-key route for prizes and just get a bunch of books to give to people. (They should at least be decent books that someone might be interested in having, though. Don't just get absolute dregs; that will make no one happy.) You should have at least enough prizes for the top two teams (or, if you have multiple divisions, at least the top team in each division) and top 5 or so individuals. Of course, having more prizes can never go amiss. Keep in mind that teams may have more than 4 individuals, so factor this into your calculations.
Of course, if you have more creative and/or interesting ideas for prizes, by all means feel free to use them. Just make sure you have at least the minimum number of prizes.
If you choose to go the book route, make sure that your books are distributed in a number of categories. This increases the possibility that people will find them interesting.
Food is, of course, not 100% necessary, but it makes teams and moderators much happier if there is at least something to eat in the morning. Again, you don't have to be terribly fancy; bagels and cream cheese (and knives) and/or doughnuts should be fine for most tournaments. Orange juice is also highly appreciated (don't forget to bring cups, though). Napkins are also a good idea.
If you're feeling munificent, another nice thing to bring is bags of candy that teams can munch in the afternoon (this is especially convenient around Halloween when big bags of candy are easy to obtain for cheap prices).
Make sure you're prepared to clean up any food that you bring (or the residue thereof).
First, you should briefly talk to your moderators (and scorekeepers, if applicable) before sending them off (so that they can get their rooms set up while you're talking to the players). Make sure that they have a set of packets, sufficient scoresheets, and a copy of the schedule, and give them a brief summary of the rules in effect (see the Rules section above). Also, tell them where they should be sending their completed scoresheets. Moderators should also know where you are, in case they need to reach you with protests or other problems.
Note that rather than handing all of the packets to the moderators at the beginning, you can give them each packet only at the beginning of the round. This approach has its benefits and drawbacks: it eliminates the possibility that a moderator will read the wrong packet (unless, of course, you give them the wrong packet), but it can also slow down the tournament significantly, especially if your room isn't the fastest, so moderators in other rooms have to wait to get the packet.
After dealing with the moderators, you should address the players. Try to make the opening meeting short, since people want to play, not listen to you talk. Summarize the schedule (including any playoff format being used), mention when lunch is, and briefly go over the rules being used (as described in the Rules section above). Allow the players to ask questions, and then get started.
If you have a dedicated statkeeper, this is easy. Set them up (hopefully with a laptop with statkeeping software), make sure that the moderators know where to send the scoresheets, and leave him or her to the job.
If you don't have a dedicated statkeeper, things become a little more complicated. The simplest approach is for you (or someone else who owes you a favor) to stay during lunch (preferably getting someone to bring you, or the someone else, food) and enter the stats from the morning rounds, and then at some later time to enter the stats from the afternoon rounds. If you have a final round (or rounds), then this is a good time to enter the afternoon stats. If not, you'll have to be a little bit more creative, as having your players sit around for 20 minutes after the end of the tournament while you enter stats is not ideal. The simplest approach in this case is to take your fastest moderator and have him or her enter the stats during the dead time between rounds. (I say "fastest moderator" because they will have the most dead time between rounds to enter stats; you don't want slower moderators doing it because they won't have any dead time anyway.) This approach is really only practical with up to about 12 teams, however.
The most common statkeeping software used is SQBS, which is overall an excellent piece of software; its only drawback is that it is Windows-only. I strongly recommend using it if at all possible. The other quizbowl statkeeping software used is LiveStat, a Perl-based set of scripts for statkeeping. There is also Matt Bruce's old Excel-based Stats99, which is now pretty much obsolete and doesn't seem to be findable anywhere. In any case, I would recommend SQBS unless you don't have a Windows computer at all and aren't afraid of dealing with much more complicated interfaces.
If you don't have a computer accessible, statkeeping by hand is also possible. Just have a row for each team, and below it a row for each person on that team, and a column for each round. For each round write the W/L and score in the team's box, and the player's individual performance in the player's box. Then just add everything up at the end. This, of course, is practical only if you have a dedicated statkeeper or a small number of teams.
Even if you don't have a dedicated statkeeper or a computer, you absolutely must keep track of team W-L yourself so you can announce a winner. This can be as simple as a bunch of tick marks on the chalkboard. In fact, it's not a bad idea to do this yourself even if you do have a dedicated statkeeper, just in case you need results now.
In all cases, make sure that the moderators know where the scoresheets should be going, whether that be to you, the statkeeper, or someone else.
Resolving protests is one of the more difficult responsibilities of a TD. Fortunately, it is also relatively rare, so if you're lucky (or have been blessed with perfect moderators and questions), you may not have to deal with it. Still, it's always good to be prepared.
In general, you should let the facts be presented by the moderator first, since they will presumably be more objective than the teams. Ideally, you will be able to learn the facts without learning which team is on which side, since this removes any possibility of bias from the equation (even if you're not biased, it's important for appearances). Of course, in some cases (for instance, if the moderator doesn't quite understand the protest), you will need to talk to the teams themselves.
Protests typically fall into two categories:
In all cases, the most important thing is to be decisive. Make your decision, explain the reasons for it, and then move on. Don't let teams try to talk you out of it; this will only will result in resentment and frustration. Just keep going.
The closing meeting should be a relatively straightforward affair. Give out the prizes that you have to the teams and individuals that deserve them, don't forget to thank all of the people who helped run the tournament, and make any announcements about upcoming events you may be hosting. Traditionally there's also a chance for other people to make announcements about upcoming events they may be hosting, as well. (In the event that you should have any downtime after the end of play, this is a good time to allow other people to make announcements.) You should also suggest that teams can send you feedback if they so desire. With that, go ahead and send people on their way, hopefully talking about what a great tournament that was.
Go through each of the game rooms and make sure they are in reasonably good order (all trash in trash can, desks not horribly disarranged, etc.) and that no one has left anything important behind. Theoretically we are subject to huge cleaning fees if we don't leave the rooms clean, so this is a very important step. I know, it's the end of the tournament and you just want to go home, but this doesn't take long and it's a very good idea.
If you've been keeping stats with SQBS, posting full stats on the web is a relatively trivial affair, so you should do this as soon as possible and post them (along, again, with thanks to all for participating and, by name, all who helped) to the appropriate forums. If you need some extra time to prepare the stats, you should post a short summary of the results first, and then post the stats as soon as they're done.
Probably during this process you've incurred some expenses, so make sure to save the receipts so you can submit them for reimbursement, and then give them to your treasurer so you can get the money back.