Common Tournament Directing Mistakes

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This is a list of common mistakes made by less-experienced tournament directors (and some experienced ones too!). The list is provided to help future tournament directors avoid these common pitfalls.

Before the Tournament

Not training and/or being aware of the relative competence of moderators beforehand
Ensuring that all moderators are capable of running a pyramidal round of quizbowl in a reasonable amount of time with decent pronunciation and a good grasp of the rules is probably the biggest challenge for most tournaments. You as the TD need to be aware of just how good each and every moderator at the tournament is because a tournament can only run as fast as the slowest moderator. One slow moderator can thus delay an entire tournament by a significant amount, even if most of the other readers are fast. If at all possible, make sure that every moderator that you provide as a host has multiple experiences reading a full-length match under standard match conditions and is well-versed in the rules (this can be done via having them read at your team's practice a few times). This same caution applies to moderators that other teams are bringing; just because a team says that they will bring a competent moderator does not mean that said moderator is actually capable of reading well (this can be an issue in particular for teams who are used to shorter, non-pyramidal questions or different formats). On the other hand, if a team is bringing a very competent moderator, be sure to use them rather than a less-competent house staffer.
Overly optimistic staff counts
Ensure that every staffer that you are planning on using at your tournament is confirmed beforehand, ideally with a phone number to reach them at in case they are not awake on the morning of the tournament. Also, make sure that staffers who are coming with another team and other outside staffers confirm directly with you so that there are no mix-ups. Be sure to get in touch with these staffers before the tournament to explain where to go and when and make sure that they know, for instance, when the tournament is likely to end to avoid a staffer having to leave early unexpectedly.
Overly optimistic timing expectations
Allotting 30 minutes per match is ideal, but this gets less likely to happen as questions get longer (for more difficult tournaments, usually), your moderators less experienced (often due to having a larger tournament field and thus a need for more moderators), and your tournament field size bigger (as small delays can pile up). Online tournaments also are likely to run significantly longer, especially if you're trying to read the standard 20 tossups with up to 20 bonuses. The first round of a tournament in particular can take a longer-than-expected to get started, so make sure to explicitly instruct teams and moderators to hurry to their round 1 rooms and get started ASAP rather than wait around to begin. If this is your first event, budget about 40 minutes per round at first, and then adjust expected round times downward based on how your readers are doing.
Ordering the wrong questions
Some question sets are of low quality, and some quality question sets can be very easy or very difficult. Picking a low-quality set or picking a set that is too easy or too difficult for the teams that are likely to attend your event can have very harmful effects on a tournament. Look for sets from people with editing experience, find out if you can get reviews from earlier mirrors, and pay close attention to how difficult a set is advertised as well as how it plays in practice at earlier mirrors. It is perfectly acceptable for TDs to seek help in this decision from other people involved in quizbowl.
Accepting too many teams into the field
If you have to cap your field due to room or moderator limits, make the cap clear upfront and stick to it. Do not let a team badger you into accepting them if you cannot ensure a good tournament experience for the rest of the field. Also do not be swayed by the temptation to get a few more bucks upfront by adding more teams--if you run a bad tournament, your field (and profit) will suffer next year. New tournament hosts in particular should be cautious about accepting too many teams at once. In general, expand your field only if you can make sure that you have at least 2-3 "extra" people capable of reading a match in reserve in case other moderators prove to be too slow or do not show up.
Being unclear about the rules to staff and new teams
Pick a set of rules, then communicate that to all teams and moderators well in advance. Ideally go over the rules again with moderators just before the tournament starts and make sure everyone is on the same page about timing, negs, etc. If you have unusual rules that are common to tournaments in your area for whatever reason (like recognition rules, double-negs, etc.), make sure to clarify how the rule sets that you are using differ from (or include) those local quirks. Overtime rules are one thing you should definitely specify, since NAQT's (3 TUs with no bonuses) and ACF's (first change in the score ends the match) are quite different.
Putting rooms too far away from each other (including the control room)
The control room (tournament HQ) should be at the center of all the other rooms in the tournament to reduce the amount of time it takes to bring scoresheets back and to quickly respond to problems if necessary. When you are putting rooms into various brackets, you should make sure to group rooms together as much as possible and avoid scheduling rooms within the same bracket up and down staircases (which take some time to navigate). As TD, you should also be checking in-person (or via another staffer designated for the purpose) to make sure that rounds have started periodically (especially during the first few rounds) and it can help then to keep the game rooms close. Avoid, if at all possible, trying to run a tournament across multiple buildings (especially if teams have to move between said buildings between rounds).

During the Tournament

Rebracketing at a time other than lunch
Lunch is the ideal time to rebracket for playoff rounds. You'll have lots of staff in HQ to help you out and teams are busy getting lunch, so they can come back to an auditorium or HQ after lunch and get their playoff seedings then rather than sit around with nothing to do. Try to pick a tournament format that allows you to rebracket during lunchtime--it might even be better if you have to play 7 rounds to do so before lunch and then rebracket (be sure to announce this to teams in advance so that they can eat a big breakfast) than to have lunch and then a separate rebracketing later.
Giving too much/too little time for lunch
This is tricky, since different brackets may finish at different times. In general though, 45 minutes is probably the minimum amount of time needed, depending on how far away lunch options are. One way to help facilitate a smooth lunch break is to explicitly recommend certain places to go to teams to help reduce the time it takes for them to find food, order, and eat or to encourage them to order things like pizza in advance. You also want to make sure that you tell moderators the time-to-be-back-from-lunch *before* beginning the last round before lunch so that they can communicate the time-to-be-back-from-lunch to all teams.
Not adjusting moderators/scorekeepers within the tournament
If you discover that you have a very slow moderator who cannot speed up adequately, pull the trigger and replace them if at all possible as soon as possible (I would say after 2 rounds of taking over 45-50 minutes, though do keep in mind that some moderators may have to start rounds at different times due to teams coming in late from other rooms). Same with scorekeepers who are consistently making mistakes. You should be asking for feedback throughout the tournament from teams and moderators/scorekeepers and respond to it as needed during the tournament rather than waiting until the end of the tournament.
Trying to enter stats and TD at the same time for large tournaments
Beyond 9 rooms (18 teams) or so, it gets really hard to enter stats and TD at the same time. Ideally, you'll have a separate scorekeeper who can be dedicated to entering stats while you as the TD walk around to monitor the rooms and think about rebracketing or finals scenarios. You may also want to look into scoresheets hosted on Google Drive that are set up to automatically generate SQBS files.
Unclear or overly lengthy protest resolution procedures
Be clear about how you will resolve protests upfront. Ideally, make sure that you are in contact with the tournament editors or producers in case there is a potential error in a question (this is especially an issue with new housewrites).