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Break Accuracy: Optimizing the Sorting Power of Preliminary Rounds Using Tapered Points

by R. Eric Barnes, Paul Kehle, Nick McKenny and Chuan-Zheng Lee • HWS

Ideally, preliminary rounds at tournaments sort teams so that the best teams break into elimination rounds. At the World Championships of debate, the scoring system during the nine preliminary rounds does a poor job of sorting teams accurately. Adding additional rounds would increase the accuracy and fairness, but this is impractical. Using mathematical models and computer simulations of tournaments, we show that using a slightly different scoring system over the nine preliminary rounds would improve the accuracy of the break even more than would doubling the number of preliminary rounds to 18. Other implications and insights into tabulation and sorting accuracy are also discussed.

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The Different Meanings of Debate

by Gareth Lim

Debating has meant many things to me over the years. My journey as a debater has had many ups and downs, but despite the countless weekends I have lost, I have never once regretted being a debater, because to deny debating would be to deny the very person that I am today.

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The Role of Debate in Rwanda

by Nikitah Gaju

The communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills debate teaches are valuable to young people who are at the forefront of development. By opening doors to more training and competition grounds for Rwandan debaters, we hope to foster the talents needed to drive progress in Rwanda.

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Arbitrary Debate: Assessing the Reliability of Debate Judges

by R. Eric Barnes & Christopher Doak

Our focus in this paper is on these questions: 1) How reliable are judges’ assignment of team points? 2) How reliable are judges’ assignment of speaker points? and, 3) How reliable are judges’ initial calls about a debate, before the deliberation begins?