California Cup

The Northern California Quiz Bowl Alliance and Quiz Bowl Club at UC Berkeley are pleased to announce that we will be holding the sixth annual California Cup during the 2017-2018 school year. The California Cup consists of four quiz bowl tournaments held throughout the year, and it is widely considered the premier academic competition event in Northern California. For the tournaments we will have registration at 8:30AM, the event will start at about 9:00AM, we will have a lunch break around noon, and we hope to finish around 6:00PM.

We hope to attract many teams from across the state and elsewhere. We have previously attracted teams from as far away as Southern California and Mississippi. As we have in the past, we will guarantee teams a high number of games (8 or more) per tournament and ensure that teams are able to play others of the same skill level after preliminary placement rounds. We use only the highest quality questions in our tournaments to ensure that players are rewarded not only for paying attention to what is taught in the classroom but also for their intellectual exploration outside a school setting. You can find out more about what quiz bowl is here ( and you can find more quiz bowl-pertinent resources here (

The top teams at each tournament will qualify for the 2018 PACE National Scholastics Championship, which will be held June 2-3 at the Hyatt Regency Reston Hotel in Reston, Virginia. California Cup tournaments have historically held the highest possible certification from PACE (Platinum), and should we continue to meet that threshold, the number of Competitive qualifiers will be 25% of the entire size of the Competitive and Standard divisions combined (rounded up). For instance, if the combined Competitive and Standard teams add up to 49, then the number of NSC qualifiers from Varsity will be 13 (25% of 49 is 12.25, which is then rounded up). Additionally, teams that perform well on NAQT sets during the California Cup will qualify for the 2018 High School National Championship Tournament, held May 26-28 at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia. The formula for HSNCT qualification is 15% of the entire field size rounded up. Teams that do well at the non-NAQT California Cup competitions can also apply for wildcards to HSNCT and PACE, and many have historically received them. Competitive teams that do not qualify directly–as well as Standard and Novice teams–may apply for nationals via wild card when wild card applications open. These wild cards are generally evaluated on statistical metrics like the average points per bonus (PPB) of a team.

Tournament Dates/locations:
California Cup #1= Sunday, October 29 at UC Berkeley (with potential overflow spots in Berkeley High School)
California Cup #2= Saturday, November 11 at Menlo (Private) School in Atherton
California Cup #3= Saturday, February 10 at [location TBD]
California Cup #4= Saturday, March 3 at [location TBD]

New for this year:
The Cal Cup competitions will each consist of three divisions: Competitive, Standard, and Novice. This is a large change from previous years, in which we featured Varsity and JV divisions.

The Competitive division is intended to contain teams that would be ranked among the top few hundred in the nation. Every team that is currently ranked by Fred Morlan on the most recent ranking on must compete in Competitive. However, that only contains a subset of the teams in the top few hundred. The rest of the teams who belong in the Competitive Division are solely up to the discretion of California Cup. Generally, any team composition reasonably close to the team composition that is either ranked by Morlan or deemed by us to be of Competitive caliber (where “reasonably close” is a standard that is at our sole discretion) must compete in Competitive.

The Standard division contains teams that (1) are not required to play Competitive, (2) do not qualify to play Novice, and (3) choose not to play Competitive. This division will use regular high school difficulty sets and allow teams of strength generally below that of nationally competitive teams to play against other such teams.

Novice teams are intended to be entirely comprised of players in their first or second years of playing high school-level quiz bowl, with players in their second year of playing quiz bowl being admitted at our discretion (under special circumstances, we may allow players with more than two years of experience to play Novice). Generally, this division is intended for players who are actually new to the game and is tailored towards awarding a title to players who have just started playing. Hence, there is a maximum of 1 year of Novice eligibility for players who play a full slate of Novice tournaments over the course of the entire school year.

Middle school players who have only played middle school questions may play Novice. Else, middle school players who have played high school questions are subject to the same standards as high school teams, with the possibility of somewhat more leniency for those in their second year of playing high school questions.

Any team that clinches a divisional championship at California Cup #3 (by accumulating an insurmountable lead in points) must play at least one division higher in California Cup #4. Additionally, a team may compete in any division higher than that in which they otherwise qualify. Petitions to be placed in a lower division will be considered by the California Cup directors jointly, and any final determinations by this group are binding.

Depending on room reservation and logistical issues, in some cases, different divisions might have to be held on different dates or at different locations. We will strive to inform you of any such situations as soon as they are confirmed.

Payment and Other Info:
Please bring appropriate payment with you when coming to a tournament. The earlier you pay the higher priority you get for tournament registration in the event of a waitlist. If there is a waitlist for the first tournament we will enter teams into the field with the following priority: 1) paying in advance via Square for the package, 2) pledging to pay onsite for the package, 3) pledging to pay onsite for the first tournament. For subsequent tournaments, people who paid for the package will get priority into the field up to a week before the tournament, at which point the field entry becomes first-come-first-serve. If you purchased a package, please inform us as soon as possible if you are missing a particular tournament. We are only accepting payment via Square if you are paying for the package; we are no longer accepting individual tournament payment via Square.

We offer a lot of flexibility in allowing drops from the field right up to 6 pm PST of the day before the tournament. Failing to inform us of a drop up to 6 pm the day before the tournament will merit you being liable for 50% of the cost of the upcoming tournament. If you do not show up at a tournament without informing us, you are liable for the full price of the tournament. Exceptions to these policies will be made only in case of emergency. This policy will also apply to package holders, though it will be scaled to account for the discount associated with the package. By signing up for the California Cup tournament series, you agree to these policies.

We will not offer buzzer and staffer discounts directly via Square. We will instead offer cash at the tournament site itself once we verify that the appropriate number of buzzers and staffers have been brought. Discounts for onsite payment will be assessed onsite.

Question sets:
Cal Cup 1 we are using SCOP Novice for Novice and Maryland Fall for Competitive and Standard
Cal Cup 2 we are using NAQT IS-171A for Novice and NAQT IS-170 for Competitive and Standard
Cal Cup 3 we are using WHAQ II for Novice and Harvard Fall Tournament for Competitive and Standard
Cal Cup 4 we are using BHSAT for Novice, Competitive, and Standard


Teams may choose to register separately for each tournament within the series, though we recommend registering for all four tournaments at once (the “package”), which ensures a significant discount. Each of the four tournaments will have its own champion and ranking. We will allow teams who wish to purchase the package up to the second tournament to decide whether to purchase it. For instance, you may attend the first tournament for only the price of the first tournament and then decide at the second tournament to purchase the entire package, at which point you will pay the discounted package price. We will split the field into junior varsity and varsity divisions and evaluate each separately. After the cup results are tallied, we will crown a California Cup (Northern California) state champion! There will be book prizes for the highest-performing teams and individual scorers at each tournament, and other prizes are in store for the top California Cup teams. When calculating final Cup standings, we will count the top three performances by each team, allowing teams to account for extenuating circumstances at one tournament (either a lower-than-expected performance or non-attendance). Only teams that register for the entire series of tournaments will be eligible for the overall title as well as prizes at the end. With four guaranteed tournaments and plenty of gameplay, this series will offer the best prizes, greatest value, and most national qualification opportunities available anywhere in the country!

Entry Fees:
Base fee per team for package of all four tournaments (paying by cash or check): $300
Base fee per team for package of all four tournaments (paying via Square): $290
If your school played zero Cal Cup events last year (i.e. new team discount): -$100 off the price of the package

Registering for a single tournament: $100
New school registering for a single tournament: $65

Buzzer discount: -$10 per tournament (We will test buzzers and NOT accept them if they do not have four fully functioning units on each “side,” so do not try to claim discounts on buzzers that are not in full working order. Also, PLEASE LABEL your buzzers with your school/team name so that you can promptly pick them up at the tournament’s conclusion. Lastly, we will no longer accept buzzers that require a laptop to operate unless we really need them.)
Staff discount: -$15 per tournament for experienced, competent moderator (if needed)
-$10 per tournament for scorekeeper
Referral discount: If a school (new or established) refers Cal Cup to a new school then they will receive a $10 discount per tournament per team that the referred school plays.
Minimum entry fee: $20 per tournament per team

*Buzzers and staff discounts apply on an as-needed, first-come, first-serve basis. When registering, please detail how many staff and/or buzzers you may be able to bring. As the tournament approaches, we will let you know whether they are needed or not. Payment will be taken either online via Square or at registration; please make checks payable to “Quiz Bowl Club”. Note that discounts for future tournaments will NOT be given at any particular tournament. What this means is that if, for example, at the first tournament you claim a buzzer discount for all four tournaments, you must still pay as if you only claimed it for one tournament. Then, for each subsequent tournament in which you actually bring the buzzer, we will refund you $10 in cash. The same goes for the staffer discount. The entire distance discount may be claimed at the first tournament, though (that is, teams more than 75 miles away from UC Berkeley will pay $80 less as long as they are purchasing the entire package).

We are setting an initial field cap of 45 teams (initial divisional breakdown is as follows: 15 Competitive, 15 Standard, 15 Novice. These figures will be adjusted as needed should additional rooms at Berkeley High School materialize or should there be a significant discrepancy in demand among divisions). Schools may register multiple teams–there is no limit. We might be able to expand if there is enough interest, but until that point, we will accept teams on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fields can fill fast, so sign up soon to reserve your slot!

[b]To pay for the package via Square, please go here: [/b] If you pay via square please specify which school you are from.

The last day to register for Cal Cup #1 is Thursday, October 26. Please bring the cash or check for full payment of the series of tournaments to the first tournament unless you are paying via Square. You can still pay the base fee for three tournaments if you register by the second tournament.

Scoring and Gameplay

The California Cup assigns points to schools based on their performance at the tournaments that take place throughout the year. We have decided to adopt the following scoring system: 10 points for 1st place, 8 points for 2nd place, 6 points for 3rd place, 4 points for 4th place, 3 points for 5th place, 2 points for 6th place, and 1 point for 7th place. Since the scoring automatically drops the lowest result of a team, only three of the tournaments will end up counting in the final evaluation of a team’s standing. Of course, attending all four tournaments will ensure that your team’s worst performance is disregarded. This means, for example, if a team wins the first three California Cup tournaments, they will be declared the California Cup champion for that division. If a team that does not purchase the full package ends up placing high enough on the scoring system, then we will simply skip them in the California Cup overall ranking (but they will still retain their ranking for that individual tournament). At the end of the year, we will break ties by evaluating (1) the performance in the 4th tournament and (2) statistics from each team’s performances throughout the year. We will maintain separate standings for JV and Varsity teams.

We will enforce all the gameplay rules as they are written in Sections C-I of the official rules of the Academic Competition Federation, so all players must fully familiarize themselves with these rules before playing these tournaments. If you are having trouble remember them, we recommend you print out a copy and refresh your memory immediately prior to the tournament. Pay special attention to timing, pronunciation, and protest guidelines, as players often lose out on points by not knowing these.

Thank you for your interest, and please spread the word to other high schools that are interested in quiz bowl or are heavily involved in other academic events like debate, robotics, or Science Bowl. We look forward to another exciting year of academic competition!

Contact Information

Please contact us at with any questions that you have.

[i]The UC Berkeley Quiz Bowl Club is a student group acting independently of the University of California. The student organization is the host of the California Cup and takes full responsibility for the guests.[/i]