2020 International Academic Competitions – Varsity & Junior Varsity 2020 US National Championships – General Information

International Academic Competitions is pleased to officially announce its tenth annual Varsity & Junior Varsity National Championships on Thursday-Sunday April 23-26, 2020 in Arlington, VA, and that the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City, Arlington will once again be the official host hotel.

Please see these sites for detailed information on:
Nationals Registration
Nationals Schedule
Nationals Qualification (for National History Bee and Bowl)
Nationals Costs
Nationals Hotel
Nationals Prizes
Teams Coming to Nationals
National Sports and Entertainment History Bee

The IAC Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships consist of the following events. Please note that all of the linked sites have their own Nationals page with further details, rules, and information on each event.

1. National History Bowl (Saturday morning and afternoon, preliminary rounds; Sat. evening & Sunday afternoon, playoff rounds)
2. National History Bee (Sunday morning, preliminary rounds; Sunday mid-afternoon, playoff rounds)
3. National Political Science Bee (Thursday evening)
4. US History Bee (Friday morning, preliminary rounds; Friday mid-afternoon and evening, playoff rounds)
5. US Geography Championships (Friday early afternoon)
6. International Geography Bee (Friday late afternoon, preliminary rounds; Friday evening, playoff rounds)
7. National Science Bee (Friday evening preliminary rounds, Saturday early afternoon playoff rounds)
8. National Sports & Entertainment History Bee (Friday evening)

Please note that our 2020 Varsity National History Bowl National Championships is capped at 180 teams and our 2020 Junior Varsity National History Bowl National Championships is capped at 120 teams! Register early to ensure your place in the tournament!

The deadline for registrations is Monday, April 6 for Bowl Registrations and Saturday, April 11 for all individual events! (11:59pm EDT both days)

Hotel Booking Information

To make reservations at the host hotel (i.e. the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA), please click on this link to make your reservation online.
Please do NOT call any number to make reservations, as you will then not be counted as part of our group, and receive the group rate. For general questions regarding the hotel, you can call the Crystal Gateway Marriott directly at 703-920-3230. Please note that the hotel has sold out our room block every year! Please be sure to book early to reserve your rooms!

National History Bowl Tournament Format 
At Varsity and Junior Varsity nationals, all teams will be guaranteed ten rounds of preliminary matches this year. All matches in 2020 will take place at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA – there are no “off-site” rounds in Washington, DC or elsewhere this year.

Nota bene: The exact format of Nationals (in particular, whether 2 or 3 teams advance out of each morning and afternoon pool into the subsequent contention / playoff rounds) may vary somewhat from what is described below (which was the format used in 2019). Once the field size has been finalized (it will be a multiple of 6 in any case for both Varsity and JV), then we will confirm the final format for 2020 here.

Varsity teams who finish in the top 2 in their morning group of 6 teams and and Junior Varsity teams who finish in the top 3 teams in their morning bracket advance to the Upper Bracket afternoon rounds and are still in contention for the title. Ranking in group is determined based on record, then total points scored. Ties among teams with 4-1 records that determine advancement to the Upper Bracket (i.e. two teams tied for 2nd and 3rd in Varsity) will be played off on a quarter of 8 powermarked tossups without bonuses with point differential from the 5 game round robin between the 2nd and 3rd place 4-1 ranked teams carrying over. Thus if one team is 4-1 with 1200 points and one team is 4-1 with 1100 points, the team with 1200 points begins the tiebreaker with a 100 point head start. If the point differential is greater than 240 points, no tiebreak is played.
Teams ranked first in their group regardless of record advance automatically. Ties for second and third place in the group among teams ranked 3-2 are broken solely on points (i.e. no tiebreaks will be played). If two teams are ranked the same on record and on points after five rounds, a sudden death buzzer tossup question is played (or more until one team answers one correctly). If more than two teams are tied for a position, a round robin of 3 or more questions (one question between each possible pairing) is played with the team who is most successful in these advancing (i.e. the team that gets both of its questions, or if a team is the only one to score). If two teams score and the third does not, then these two teams play a tiebreak question on their own. This procedure is repeated until a winner emerges.

This year, we will have an extended lunch break so as to efficiently handle the rebracketing that takes place during lunch. After lunch, teams are placed in afternoon groups of 6, playing five more matches.
In the Varsity Upper Bracket groups, there will be 3 teams per group who finished first in the morning, and 3 teams who finished second. In the afternoon rounds, the top 4 teams advance to the evening playoffs, though teams in fourth place begin the playoffs in single elimination position, not double.
Varsity teams who do not make Upper Bracket will play 5 afternoon consolation rounds against teams who finished in identical position in their morning group (e.g. against all other teams in one’s “supergroup” who finished fourth, if a team finished fourth in the morning).
In the JV, the top 3 teams out of the morning groups advance to the Upper Bracket. Each JV Upper Bracket afternoon group will have 2 teams who finished first in the morning, two teams who finished second, and two teams who finished third. Then, in the afternoon, they need to finish again in the top 3 out of 6 to make the JV evening playoffs.
In the JV afternoon consolation rounds, each consolation group will have 2 teams who finished 4th in their morning group; two teams who finished 5th, and two teams who finished 6th.

Afternoon consolation group matches may or may not count to determine a team’s final ranking; we will know that once the field size has been confirmed, and then we will post that decision here. 

After Round 10, teams outside the Upper Bracket are ranked in their afternoon groups by order of finish among comparably ranked groups, then afternoon record among teams in such a group, then afternoon total points among teams in such a group, then morning order of finish, record and morning points if still tied. The Upper Bracket teams are ranked in their afternoon groups by afternoon record, then afternoon total points; then, if still tied for any place, sudden death tossups will be used to break the tie per the procedures described above (though not doing any special tiebreaks among 4-1 finishing teams).

In Varsity playoffs, an advantaged double elimination championship bracket will be used: the top 16 teams based on afternoon order of finish in their group, then record, then points will begin in the winners’ bracket (double elimination), while the next 16 teams will have a seed from 17 to 32 and begin in the losers’ bracket (single elimination).

The first four rounds of Varsity playoffs will be played on Saturday evening; on Sunday, either 3 or 4 rounds will be needed to determine the champion (depending on whether the ultimate champion goes undefeated or not). Once Varsity teams have been eliminated from the losers’ bracket, they will continue to play matches (up to 3 more games) to determine final placement. Many of these games will take place on Sunday early afternoon. Teams still need to play these, even if they are out of contention for the overall title!

Full details on the Varsity double-elimination championship bracket and consolation placement games are available here. There are two moments when the championship bracket involves drafting. First, prior to Round 5, of the four teams remaining in the loser’s bracket, the one with the highest initial playoff seed selects their Round 5 opponent from the three other teams. Second, prior to Round 6, the undefeated winner’s bracket champion selects their Round 6 opponent from two of the three remaining one-loss teams; the team they just defeated in Round 5 is protected from being selected.

For the Junior Varsity playoffs, the top 24 teams from the Saturday afternoon Upper Bracket rounds will make the Saturday Evening Playoff rounds. Teams ranked 1-8 will have double elimination status, the remaining playoff teams will have single elimination status, and all final positions will be played off (e.g. even if a single elimination team loses in its first playoff, it has remaining games against other teams who also lost their first playoff round with single elimination status to determine overall final placement in the tournament.) Drafts will occur at points comparable to the Varsity playoffs.

Small Schools and other classifications
We will once again award a small school Varsity and small school JV National Champion this year. A Small School is defined as a non-magnet, non-selective public school with 1000 or fewer students in a four grade school (e.g. 9-12) or 800 in a three grade school – (e.g. 10-12 or 6-8). Small schools do not play in a separate draw of the tournament.

New for 2019-2020! We will be offering a separate small school playoff bracket for both Varsity and JV Small Schools. The top 6 small school teams will make the playoffs in both age divisions. The top 4 teams go into the playoffs in double elimination position; the next 4 teams go into the playoffs in single elimination position. If a Small School-eligible team or teams make the playoffs of the main draw, then they will get advanced into later stages of the Small School playoffs automatically.

We will also award prizes for the top homeschool, middle school, and single-player teams, but these awards are not played off; they simply go to the highest team in the overall rankings with these designations in both Varsity and JV.

National History Bee Rules and Tournament Format

Primer for the National History Bee Preliminary Rounds

We will also once again offer a Consolation Bee, with Varsity and JV Divisions for students coming to Nationals, but who didn’t qualify for the History Bee National Championships. All students in the Consolation Bee will play rounds 1-5 as preliminary rounds, Round 6 will be a finals round for the top 3 students in each division only. The Consolation Bee will still cost $55 per student, not $115, and is typically open only to students who did not qualify at a Regional or State Bee. At the discretion of IAC, exemptions to this rule can be granted, but you must ask us first.

National History Bee Playoff Structure

In 2020, the playoff formats for the Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions of the National History Bee are identical; everything in this section applies to both divisions. This playoff format is identical to what was used in 2018 and 2019. The questions in the playoff rounds are the same in both divisions.

The IAC Championships Individual Event Playoffs Scoring System, involving superpowermarked tossups and incorrect penalties, will be in use.

The top 40 students in each division will advance from the preliminary rounds to the playoffs. The National History Bee playoffs are played in quarterfinal, semifinal, and final stages.

The quarterfinals consist of 5 rooms of 8 players on a round of 35 tossups. The top 3 players in each room, as well as the highest-scoring 4th place player, advance to the semifinals. The round is played as a race to 40 points. If a student reaches 40 points in the quarterfinals, they are finished playing in that round; the first player to do so finishes the round in first place, and so on. All 35 tossups are read, regardless of how many players have reached 40 points and stopped playing. If, after 35 tossups, there is a tie involving 3rd and/or 4th places, the tied players will play sudden victory tiebreak questions. If multiple 4th place players reached 40 points, the player who did so on the earlier question advances; if they reached 40 on the same question, the tied students will play sudden victory tiebreak questions. (Note that going “beyond 40 points” is ignored; all that matters for purposes of 4th place wild card tiebreaking consideration is the question on which a player reached 40 points and stopped playing.)

The semifinals consist of 2 rooms of 8 players on a round of 35 tossups. The top 3 players in each room advance to the finals. Scoring and tiebreaking procedures are identical to the quarterfinals, with the exception that there is no 4th place wild card advancement.

The finals consist of 1 room of 6 players on a round of up to 40 tossups. If a player reaches 50 points, the match ends, they are crowned National Champion, and if 30 tossups have been read, the scores at that point are used as the final rankings. A minimum of 30 tossups will be read in the final. If no one reaches 50 points, the scores after 40 tossups are used as the final rankings. Any ties for First, Second, and/or Third Place are played off on sudden victory tiebreak questions.

Staff Wanted!
If you are interested in helping to staff the 2020 IAC Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships, please contact us at info@iacompetitions.com. Staff members are given a complimentary polo shirt. We can reimburse travel expenses on a case by case basis (up to $325 per person in most cases, but this depends on our needs), and also help you find people to carpool with if applicable. Please note that staff who are coming with a National History Bowl team or as a parent, chaperone, or other family member of a student in any of the competitions on Nationals weekend are not compensated for travel or given complimentary hotel rooms, but they are given the staff polo, meal stipends, and are then entitled to registration discounts per the times and days which they staff. Accommodations for staff are provided on Friday and Saturday night (and Thursday as well, if staffing the National Political Science Bee or US History Bee preliminaries) along with a food allowance. If you are coming from close to Washington, DC and can reach Nationals for under a certain amount in travel costs, you can keep the difference in cash based on how many days you are staffing. This allows staff who are local or from the mid-Atlantic region, to earn as much as $200 or slightly more for working Nationals. Please contact the above-listed email address for further details on staff compensation.
If you have suggestions or comments, please let us know. If it’s a question that is specific to your team or does not relate to Nationals, email us. We’re working hard to bring you a great National Championships. Let us know your thoughts and we’ll take them into consideration. Good luck in qualifying and hope to see you and your team at the 2020 IAC Varsity and JV National Championships in April!