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Tournament Day

Tournament day, whether state or worlds, can be chaotic. As soon as you arrive on campus you will see activity everywhere! So many people! Everyone carrying props, costumes, vehicles, containers! Each tournament will be slightly different, depending on the number of volunteers and officials, the site itself, the number of teams, and so forth. See the article on preparing for the tournament for information for what the coach and team should complete before arriving.

Long-Term and Spontaneous will be scheduled at least an hour apart, in most instances. Often, because of scheduling issues, there will be even more time. Teams may have Long-Term and Spontaneous several hours apart. If so, take time out for lunch, go see some other teams, visit the souvenir table to get your t-shirt and pins, or take advantage of photo opts to save more memories of the day. (or all of the above.)

Structure of Tournaments

In most situations, teams first compete at the regional level. Those who place at this level advance to Association Finals at the state/province/country level, according to qualification criteria set by the individual association. Teams that place here are may be invited to compete in the annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.

Teams in areas that do not provide official competitions before World Finals may apply to go directly to World Finals and are approved on a first-come, first-served basis. These teams must apply to CCI by April 1 of the program year to be eligible. They may also be allowed to participate in a neighboring state’s official competitions, with champions being selected from each state represented. If the team wishes to do this, they must contact the Association Director of the neighboring state to learn the details. Contact your Tournament Director for specifics regarding the competition.


  • The team will arrive with all props, backdrops, costumes, team sign, completed forms, and everything they are using in their performance at the tournament site. The coach will register the team for competition, and pick up a registration packet at the registration desk. Teams should arrive at least 2 hours before their performance time (either Long-Term or spontaneous, whichever is first.) Check out the performance area and the building, looking to see where the pre-staging area may be and where the team can put props until they report to the pre-staging area.
  • The team, coaches and perhaps parents should bring in props about one hour before the Long- Term performance time. The building will seem chaotic … people everywhere, carrying large trees, small children, wide signs, narrow backdrops. Somehow this sorts itself out, as people take teams’ possessions to the appropriate areas. Teams should find an area where they can set down their props, preferably near the staging or pre-staging area for their problem. The team should examine things for any damage and make repairs. ONLY team members may make any repairs! Then it’s time to get into costume, while the coach or parents keep an eye on the props to keep them from getting trampled.
  • BALSA teams must have the structure weighed at least one hour before scheduled performance time (see specific tournament’s guidelines for weigh-in). If the structure does not conform to requirements, the team will be given a period of time to try to reduce the weight. They may then have the structure re-weighed. The teams will pick up their sealed structures (which have been weighed) no earlier than 25 minutes before performance time, and then proceed to the check-in area.
  • At 20 minutes before their scheduled Long-Term performance time, the team should bring props and/or vehicle, etc. to the pre-staging area. All long term problems have a “Pre-Staging” area where a Judge takes the team’s paperwork and may measure things, looks for any safety concerns, etc.
  • Long-Term performances will begin from what is called the Staging Area. This is an area near the performance site (almost always only a few yards away.) The team takes all items for the performance to the Staging Area from Pre-Staging Area. When the previous team has left, and the judges are ready, the Timekeeper will bring the team into the performance site. The coach may sit in a specially designated seat … or anywhere in the audience. When everyone is ready, the Timekeeper will say “Begin” and the team’s eight minutes starts.
  • After the performance, judges will come up and speak to the team to gain a better understanding of their solution. Team members should understand that giving a clear explanation and showing excitement for all their hard is important - points are still on the table after the performance ends!
  • The coach will pick up the long-term score usually about an hour after the performance and will discuss the results with the head judge. The coach should ask the reason behind any penalties or failed objective scoring categories, but no discussion is allowed for subjective scoring areas. Judges usually write sticky-notes with comments about aspects of the performance they found especially enjoyable or creative.
  • Coaches should always try to encourage and praise the team when delivering their results. The team worked hard for several months, and despite the outcome, they should be applauded for their efforts.


  • The team should report to the spontaneous check-in about 15 minutes before their time to perform. The coach will take the team to the spontaneous area. No one is allowed to watch the team solve the spontaneous problem. Parents and coaches will wait outside the building.
  • Coaches should prepare games or verbal spontaneous problems to keep the team occupied during down times throughout the day. Practicing puns is a great and easy way to loosen up the team.
  • Only the team (except for primary) will go into the room with the officials to perform.
  • Only five members of the team may compete in the spontaneous problems. Any additional team members may stay in the room and watch, but they must not contribute in any way.
  • Spontaneous scores are provided at the end of the tournament after the awards ceremony.

Special Situations at the Tournament

Once a team submits a roster for a competition, it may not change the roster for that competition unless first approved by the Tournament Director.

Any team member may compete in more than one problem; however, a team member may not enter competition in the same problem for more than one team.

Special requests will be accommodated in extenuating circumstances. If a team has a special request it must submit it in writing at the time of registering for a tournament and check with the Tournament Director two weeks in advance of competition to make sure the request will be honored. Some reasons to submit a special request are:

  • When a team member is competing in more than one problem.
  • If any of the members do not understand and speak the language used in competition.
  • If the team includes a member who is disabled. The team must provide the nature of the disability and the areas (Long-Term and/or Spontaneous) in which the team member may be participating. For some spontaneous problems, a disability, such as color blindness or a reading or learning disability, may affect the team’s performance.
  • Food allergies and other medical concerns that require special attention.
  • If a team can absolutely not compete at a certain time of the day during the tournament.

Free Time During the Tournament

Between and after performances, the team will have several hours of free time. Watching other teams perform not only shows good sportsmanship and support, but the team can gain an understanding for how other teams solved the same problem or a different problem. Division III teams are especially good to watch as their humor and technical ability in their performances usually is the most developed. Make sure to give applause and appreciation for everyone else's performance!

The coach should delegate bringing snacks and games to a parent. Since most tournaments are in the springtime and on a school campus, outdoor activities like frisbee, basketball, and football are a great way for the team members to burn off energy.

Awards Ceremony

After all teams have competed in spontaneous and long term, the judging team reports and tallies the scores. At regional and state awards ceremonies, teams will find out if they advance the next level of competition. Tournaments, regions, and states have different rules regarding which teams advance.

tournament_day.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/12 02:31 (external edit)