Have You Signed Up For Everything?

Now that you’ve seen the TCONA5 schedule, do you know what you want to participate in? We’re hoping the answer is “everything,” but the more important thing is that if that is your answer, we want to make sure you can play everything. We’re scheduling everyone into event sessions that won’t interfere with their other event sessions, as long as we know what you want to play!

If you want to participate in the 5×5 tournament, email Jamie@TriviaNYC.net right away. Tell her that you want in, and that you got this directive from TCONA.com.

If you want to participate in The Great TCONA Scavenger Hunt [working title], you need a teammate. This is a pairs event with a player cap of twenty-five (potentially thirty) teams. Don’t have a teammate but still want in? Email Jamie at the above address and let her know so she can save you a spot and perhaps help you find a teammate.

If you want to participate in Quiz Bowl, make sure Jamie has your team name and roster ASAP. Want to play but need a team? Email Jamie or visit the TCONA facebook page to offer yourself up and look for other floaters. Some QB teams may still be coming together on Day One in Las Vegas, so don’t panic if you don’t have one yet.

And now, a GIF Challenge for your viewing and trivia pleasure.

Is this fact or fiction?


[click the image to see it in action]

TCONA5 Schedule

Friends and quizzers, your patience is appreciated more than you know, and hopefully rewarded in spades with this short & sweet post!

There may be some impromptu late night trivia that is off-schedule, because WE ALL WANT ALL OF THE TRIVIA, and potentially minor tweaks along the lines of room changes, but this is at least 99% confirmed as the official TCONA5 schedule, and those are good numbers.


Book Your Hotel Room Today for TCONA5!

Have you booked your hotel room yet? TCONA needs you to make your hotel reservations at the official conference hotel, the newly renovated Tropicana Las Vegas. Use this link to get our specially negotiated rates of $375 for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with discounts on either side if you’d like to extend your stay. By staying at The Tropicana, you make TCONA possible. We have to guarantee a certain number of hotel rooms in order to obtain the meeting rooms for all the events, and staying where the action is puts you in the middle of the best competitions and networking events of the year. So make your room reservations today, and tell your friends, because time is running out!

BREAKING NEWS: David Wallechinsky to Keynote TCONA5​​
Quizzing North America is thrilled to announce that best-selling author and historian David Wallechinsky will keynote TCONA5. Perhaps best known for The People’s Almanac and The Book of Lists, which resulted in numerous spin-offs, Wallechinsky is also an expert on Olympic history and anecdotes. He is the founder of AllGov.com, which provides up-to-date news about more than 340 departments and agencies of the American government.

Announcing: The QNA Podcast Network!

After lots of experimentation, we’re finally at the point where we can announce the launch of the Quizzing North America Podcast Network. Our flagship podcast, Q&A, a straight-up Questions & Answers podcast (in the style of James Carter’s excellent, incredibly long-running, no-frills, all-content Podquiz cast), has been running live every Friday for a few weeks now.

Now, we can announce our second new cast, Behind The Questions, hosted by Million Second Quiz runner-up (and NYC live host) Brandon Saunders. Each week, he delves into the background behind a given trivia question. It’s 10 minutes of geekery on a different topic each week, and he’s glib and goofy without getting ranty.

This week, he talks about the history behind Asteroids, one of the most popular video games in history, and how important it was as a bridge between the monopixel games that came before it, and the fluid VR games of today. He also runs down some tips & tricks on how to beat this legendarily difficult game of inertia and flying rocks. Be the star of your local arcade! Save yourself a fortune in quarters!

Right now, all the podcasts in the QNA Network (we have a couple more in the pipe right now, and we’re always looking for other ideas; the world of trivia podcasts is kind of bare) are on the same RSS & iTunes friendly feed, though we might break them out at some point. We’ll see how it goes.

Please, do us a favor, and share this stuff if you like it. If you don’t, or if there’s a way we can make this better, do let us know.

The TCONA5 Discount Rate Is Ending Soon

TCONA5 Logo - BannerHere’s hoping the pleasant weather is good where you are, and bad, well, nowhere, really.

Just to let you know that the Early Bird first-100 rate of $129 for TCONA5 registration is fast approaching. We should reach the end of it in the next day or two, so if you want in at that price for a full weekend of amazing quizzing, games, rubbing shoulders with trivia greats and general intellectual Vegas debauchery, now’s a good time to pull the trigger.

We’ve got a full docket of events already, and we’re still adding things. It’s already the biggest event of its kind in the world, and we’re just getting started.

Register today. Seriously, you’re going to want to.

Your Long-Awaited TCONA4 Results Post

Rutter, Finger, Watson, Jennings, Knodgeball

I’m going to play Jerry Springer for just a moment and put TCONA4 to bed by asking a simple question:

What have we learned?

We’ve learned that Watson should stick to parsing Alex Trebek’s cadence (and sure, diagnosing sick people and stuff), and stay out of the Knodgeball nonagon.

We’ve learned that there is no such thing as a name tag with too large a font. Too small, on the other hand, can be a bit of a hassle.

We learned that without Bill Schantz, not only would 5×5 not happen, but the technical backbone of TCONA would disappear, and we’d be running this thing in the dark with desk bells and miner’s hats, stabbing each other with pencils. He’s a stone cold rock star.

We’ve learned that while Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are pretty much equals at the various trivia arts, the maxim that Ken always beats Brad (unless there’s money on the line) continues to hold true. And Brad did go home with (at least) three medals.

We learned that if Mike Burger feels too constrained as the Commissioner of Quiz Bowl, he could always become a Vegas lounge act. When he vamped for 15 minutes on the Sunday morning until the 3rd/4th place match ended, it was a side of him I don’t think anyone had ever seen before, and it… it was masterful.

We learned that we could never have too many volunteers, and their coordinator, Kelsie Kline, is worth her weight in platinum.

We learned that next year, we’re going to need a bigger boat. And by boat, I mean space to hold all the events of TCONA5. (Registration is open now!)

We learned that a Saturday afternoon documentary about Quizzing in India in the middle of 72 straight hours of various quiz games can be a welcome respite before the night’s festivities take over and everything gets crazy again.

We learned that I apparently can’t tell the Brady kids apart anymore.

We’ve learned that a lot of us read The Book Of Lists as kids, and found it to be more relevant in our history of getting into trivia than anything Regis Philbin has ever done. At least for this year.

We’ve learned that there’s demand for more events like this, and we’re looking to expand, not just for next August in Vegas, but year-round. (Watch this space for news about the Canadian Championships this coming November, because that is about to become a thing. I know, right?)

And we’ve learned that for brief shining moments on one August weekend in 2014, these players all lit up their quizzes and became one of the few, the proud, the TCONA4 medalists. It is right to give these people thanks and praise, and ply them with the drink of their choice.


Event Gold Silver Bronze
First Quiz Of TCONA Patrick Friel Steve Perry Jonathan Hess

Visual Quiz
Adam Villani Brad Rutter (tie) Jason Parker
Patrick Friel
James Holzhauer
LearnedLeague Rundle Championship Troy Meyer Patrick Friel
LearnedLeague TCONA Open Jonathan Hess Steve Perry (tie) Joshua Kreitzer
Brad Rutter
Knodgeball David Legler
Jeremy Cahnmann
Brad Rutter
Brandon Saunders
Pam Mueller
James Holzhauer
Continental Trivia Championship ** Whiz Bang Quiz Gang
Shane Whitlock
LeeAnne Whitlock
Steve Perry
Yogesh Raut
Russ Friedewald
Vito Cortese
Sam Medley
** Fun Dungeon
Sara Lehmann
Adam Villani
Brian Fodera
Jerome Vered
Warren Usui
Michael Rankins
** Primitive Trivia Gods
Don Guckenberger
Dave Mattingly
David Bailey
Lori Bailey
Jonathan Hess
Brian Ibbott
5×5 James Holzhauer Matthew Frost Joshua Kreitzer
Geeks Who Drink In Vegas % % %
Quiz Bowl North American Championship ** Pot Pourri
Patrick Friel
Brian Fodera
Warren Usui
** More Cowbell
Jeremy Cahnmann
Jonathan Hess
Dave Legler
Michael Rankins
** Quiz Boleros 04
Yogesh Raut
Eric Panchenko
Kevin Hammer

% – Results not in my possession, for some reason. I’ll add these results as I get them.


TCONA4 – Photo Gallery Recap

Alright. Digging slowly out from under what was actually a pretty great TCONA4.

I’ll add to this post all the photo galleries & can find, most of which are on Facebook. There were a ton of pictures taken, many of the Knodgeball Tournament, which was amazing. The whole weekend was amazing, actually. We’ll be surfing on the afterglow of this week for a while yet, and we look forward to building on this for next year.

Before you dig into these collections, be sure and read the excellent recap of TCONA4 in Newsweek by Lucy Westcott. It might be the most comprehensive mainstream-media piece on North American Trivia ever.

Earl Cahill’s TCONA4 Collection (G+)

Kristy Tye’s TCONA4 Collection (FB)

Joe Van Ginkel’s Collection (FB)

Dan Avila’s Photos (FB)

Results will go live on Monday, but congratulations to everyone who won stuff, and everyone who came, played and enjoyed themselves.

Quiz Bowl – An FAQ

Step One.


Welcome to TCONA 4 and the Quiz Bowl competition. This year we are going to have 32 teams, so this is going to be our largest tournament yet, and we need your help in making sure that everyone knows exactly what is going on and keeping this flowing smoothly, on schedule and fun for everyone.

This Is How We Do It

The tournament is split into two stages: the qualification stage and the knockout stage. Think of it like the recent World Cup. During the qualification stage, each team will have up to three chances to win two games. Once a team loses their second game in the qualification stage, they are eliminated from further play. Only teams that win two games in the qualification stage will move on to the knockout stage, which is a simple 16-team single elimination tournament. The brackets for the knockout stage will be posted Friday evening.

What’s With The Pretty Colors?

Each team will be given before the first game a colored card with a number on it. Before each game, you will hand that card to the moderator. At the conclusion of the game, the winning team will give the card closest to 1 to the winning team, and the card closest to 8 to the losing team. The goal is after two games to have card #1 or card #2, or after three games to have card #3 or card #4.

First game: All teams will have a 0-0 record and a card from #1 through #8.
Second game: Four teams will have a 1-0 record and a card from #1 through #4 and will play each other, and four teams will have an 0-1 record and a card from #5 through #8 and will play each other..
Third game: Two teams will have a 2-0 record and either card #1 or card #2. They have advanced to Saturday. Two teams will have an 0-2 record and either card #7 or card #8. They will be eliminated from further play. Card #3 will then play card #5 and card #4 will play card #6 for the right to continue on to Saturday.

Example: In the first game, teams holding card #3 and card #6 faceoff. At the conclusion of the game, the winning team will be given card #3, the losing team will be given card #6. The team will move on to play the team with card #2, and the losing team will play the team with card #7.

The teams playing in the knockout round will be re-seeded for the bracket.

So How Do We Play This Thing?

Quizbowl is a game of tossups and bonuses. During a tossup, a question is read where more obscure clues are followed by less obscure clues. Any player can ring in during the question to attempt to give the correct answer. If the player is correct, they will earn 10 points and a chance for up to 30 more points on a bonus question. If the player is incorrect, they will lose 5 points if the question had not been completed. Once a player answers a question incorrectly, the remainder of that player’s team is locked out for the remainder of the tossup. If neither team can answer the tossup within 5 seconds of conclusion, play moves on to the next tossup.

During a tossup, teammates may not consult with each other verbally. They may give simple hand signals to indicate that they be able to answer the question or will not be attempting to answer the question. These hand signals usually only come in to play when the other team has already registered a 5 point penalty for interruption.

When a player buzzes in, they have 5 seconds to give their answer. After the fourth second, the moderator will say “answer please” and unless the answer is given immediately after that prompt, the team will be considered incorrect.

When a team is rewarded with a bonus question, verbal conferring is now allowed. Bonuses will either have three or four parts, and the team will have 5 seconds upon the conclusion the part to answer. The moderator will take the answer only given from the captain unless the captain designates another player. If a player is designated by the captain, this does not reset the 5 second clock.

Moderators have on the question pages what is called “the underlined answer”, which indicates what information is necessary for the answer to be correct. Generally, only last names are needed but if a last name proves to be not enough, the moderator will prompt with “more information.” The player then needs to immediately respond with the additional information necessary. Usually in the cases of names, giving an initial is enough. Kings, popes, movie/TV show titles, Super Bowls and other things that are usually designated with a number are not promptable.

When giving an answer for either a tossup or a bonus, the player can give out any extraneous information to the facts to the answer as long as it does not negate a correct answer. This is known in quiz bowl circles as a “blitz.” For example, if a question asked “who was the 39th U.S. President,” a player can say “it was the guy after Gerald Ford…Jimmy Carter” and be considered correct. However, if the player says “it was the guy after Gerald Ford…Jack Carter” or says “it was either Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter,” the player would be wrong since there was negating information during the blitz.

Captains from either team may protest a question if they feel that the answer given for the question by the moderator is incorrect. If a protest is granted, the scorekeeper will note that and the protest will be adjudicated only if the protest at the end of the game could change who is the winner and who is the loser. It will not be adjudicated if the score difference does not change the outcome. Depending on what and when the protest took place, the following relief will occur:

Tossup ruled incorrect that was later proved to be correct: The team will be awarded 10 points for the bonus, have any interrupt penalty removed, and receive a bonus. The other team will have any points taken away from that question if they were awarded.
Bonus ruled incorrect that was later proved to be correct: The team will be awarded the points.
Answer given inadvertently by the moderator: Either a new tossup will be read or a bonus part will be replaced of the same value.

Each game is 20 tossups long plus the bonuses for the correct tossups. There is no linkage between tossups and bonuses. If tossup #1 is not answered but tossup #2 is, bonus #1 will be read. If the score is tied at the conclusion of the game, additional tossups will be read until the score changes. The change can either be a correct answer to a tossup or an interrupt penalty.

Loose Lips ^$&! Up the Tournament

Due to the high volume of teams and the low volume of physical locations, the first two rounds are repeated. 16 of the 32 teams will play their first two games, then the other 16 will play their two games. Because of this, no spectators are allowed for the first two games. Additionally, players are on their honor not to divulge any material they heard from their games until all teams have heard the round. Due to either advancement or knockout, round #3 needs only 16 teams and will be played all simultaneously.

To Be Early Is to Be on Time, To Be On-Time Is to Be Late, To Be Late Is to Be Forgotten

One of the biggest complaints we’ve had at TCONA over the years is the inability to stick to a schedule. This is where you can help out. Be at your game early. Don’t chit chat between questions. Keep the games moving. There is no reason these games cannot be completed in 25 minutes.

Who Wrote These Questions? They’re Awesome! And the Distribution? Genius!

Why thank you. Ten different people contributed to writing questions. First, Mike Burger served as the primary writer and editor of the packets and contributed about 40% of the set. Craig Barker and Mitchell Szczepanczyk contributed as editors as well and each contributed about 10%. Additional near 10% contributions were provided by Todd Lusk, Mark Coen and Michelle LaLonde. And finally, the set was rounded out with the contributions of Paul Bailey, Steve Bahnaman and Jason Zuffranieri.

The distribution was based on having a meld between the NAQT and TRASH distributions, with a small amount of ACF difficulty thrown in for fun.

  • 5 Questions Per Packet: History (including Mythology and Religion)
  • 4 Questions Per Packet: Literature, Science
  • 3 Questions Per Packet: Geography, Film, Pop Music, Sports, Television and Potpourri
  • 2 Questions Per Packet: Commerce, Current Events
  • 1 Question Per Packet: Art, Classical Music, Theater, Video Games, Language, Comics, Food/Drink

The packets were designed that each of the authors contributed equally as well, as so no one packet is biased towards a particular writer.