Underground packet trade

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The underground packet trade (also known as the underground packet railroad) is a semi-mythical agreement between several prominent quizbowl players and/or clubs that allows these players and clubs to freely obtain packets that have not been made freely available to the public.

The exact workings and connections of the underground packet trade are a well-kept secret. In general, it is assumed that one or more participants in the underground packet trade obtain the packet set used at a tournament (by virtue of attending the tournament, paying for the questions, or writing a freelance packet). These questions are then sent, usually with the implicit understanding of future reciprocation, to one or more contacts, upon which the packets are quickly distributed to all members of the underground packet trade.

Many clubs also have somewhat secret private archives of packets generally not available on more public archives like the Stanford Archive. According to Zeke Berdichevsky, Michigan apparently had an extensive private archive in the early 2000s that they hid from other clubs in order to gain an edge on other clubs by practicing on packets with "good clues".