First of all, let’s not overblow direness of the situation. In my experience, people do get nothing but 1-1 and 2-2 matches through the entire prelims at most tournaments, using the best practices I’ve outlined for categorization (http://www.debatecoaches.org/tabbing-best-practices/). We shouldn’t get too worried about getting a lot of 5-5s; I see maybe one every seventh tournament. Maybe two or three out of 50 pairings might be 3-3s per round at the average tournament, if that many, and occasionally there’s the odd 4-4. The tabroom.com software is very good at finding the best overall prefs. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that we’ve set up the system to give the lesser mutualities to teams out of contention, and the higher mutalities to the bubbles. So for the most part MJP works exactly the way people want it to work.
Be that as it may, a large number of people insist that they should only get either 1 or 2 judges, period. They want 1-1s and 2-2s in that order, but they’ll take a 1-2 weighted against them over anything else. As I say, this doesn’t come up often, but it does come up. It can usually [...]
I’ve written at great length here about how I think tournaments should be tabbed. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.) And I’ve had some side conversations on my own blog with Chris Palmer, a tabbing theorist and, of course, originator of tabroom.com (and tech support for NDCA). Not all of these conversations were in agreement, and I’ll capture some of the most relevant pieces of them shortly as background on the subject as a whole, since it is a far from closed discussion. In any case, the time has come to summarize best practices. These are not the recommendations of the NDCA—and they occasionally contradict NDCA tab procedures. They are my own recommendations, based on my own thoughts and experiences. Like any set of best practices, they may not be universally definitive, but they can act as the starting point for individual tournament directors and tab rooms trying to figure things out fairly. The following can be distributed as a short, manageable document, which I’ll provide shortly.
Tabbing Best Practices
These are our operating principles in offering debate competition:
Debate tournaments need to be scrupulously fair.
They need to reward the competitors who do [...]