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tpeters

Looking for advice about tie-breakers

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I was wondering how folks in other parts of the country break ties to determine who goes to out-rounds.

 

Around here, the "norm" is 3 rounds to finals. A few 2-day tournaments may have 4-5 prelims to semi-finals. Regardless of the system used (except for National Qualifying, which has very specific rules), there is a need for tie-breakers. How does one choose from 4 undefeateds to the 2 in finals? How does one choose among the 5 undefeateds for semis?

 

Currently, our first tie-breaker is strength of opposition. The second tie-breaker is speaker points. (I'm referring to all 3 types of debate.) The problem is that a team's destiny is essentially determined by the random draw of opponents in the first round. We power-match after that, but the first round is always pot-luck. This past weekend, a very good LDer got left out of finals because her first opponent won 0 rounds during the day. It all seems to come down to luck. However, points can be so personal and arbitrary.

 

What do others folks do to break ties for out-rounds? Is there a fairer way out there?

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We use pure random luck. We'll usually have three prelims to one final round with the two 3-0 teams (or the one 3-0 team and a 2-1 team chosen at random) and then have a consolation round with two randomly-chosen 2-1's. Thus it's theoretically possible to go up against three teams with a combined record of one win and eight losses and come out the champion.

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With only 3 prelims, adjusted speaks doesn't make sense, and opp wins is more telling than raw speaks. I think you are doing as well as can be done within the format of a 3 prelim tourney. I don't necessarily like choosing teams at random for the consolation either. The only coin-tosses in debate should be when no other reasonable option exists.

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Adjusted speaks don't make sense when there are only 3 rounds. Speaks are better than opponent wins because opponent wins is a random factor of the draw whereas speaker points, although subjective, are based on skill of the team itself. Also, all 3-0 teams should break even if it means semis are necessary.

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We follow: Wins, Total Points, Total Ranks, Adjusted Points, Adjusted Ranks, Opp-Wins, J.Var, Random Number in that order.

 

All of our regular League tourneys are 4 rounds - so that is why we go to totals first, and then adjusted, and why we don't use double adjusted.

 

Duane

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*sorry if this sounds mean*

 

first of all, if you are doing 3 rounds and have more than one 3-0 team the you need to add at least one more round at power match. It is unacceptable to have four 3-0 teams unless it is a one day tourny and even then you should have 4 rounds.

 

Second, opp w/l is ridic. you should do points first (total) followed by adj. points. A team should NOT be punished because they hit 3 shitty 0-3 teams.

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Mr. Rove: it doesn't sound mean. However, within the confines of our tournament structure, it would be rather difficult to do more than 3 rounds to finals. Understand that there are many reasons for such a structure to have grown here. And yes, most of our tournaments that go 3 to finals are one day tournaments. Two-day tournaments are not very popular around here (we have a number of coaches who complain about how long and demanding such schedules are -- we would lose a lot of programs if we went to mostly 2 day tournaments.) We have a few: one in November, two in January, then State Quals in February, State in March, and Nat Quals in April.

 

Also, even a 4th round would not solve the problem. At the tournament last Saturday, we had 42 PF teams. At the end of 3 powered rounds, we had 7 undefeateds. Even if we had powered a fourth round, we would have had 3 or 4 undefeateds to put into finals. Thus, we still need a tie-breaking system.

 

Finally, please understand that I am referring to power-matched tournaments. Thus, the only round which might have a "shitty 0-3" team would be first. After the first round win, the debater/team would be paired against kids who had won their first round, thus a minimum opp record of 1-2.

 

Could someone describe to me "adjusted points" and "double adjusted points"? Would averaging points make any sense?

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Mr. Rove: it doesn't sound mean. However, within the confines of our tournament structure, it would be rather difficult to do more than 3 rounds to finals. Understand that there are many reasons for such a structure to have grown here. And yes, most of our tournaments that go 3 to finals are one day tournaments. Two-day tournaments are not very popular around here (we have a number of coaches who complain about how long and demanding such schedules are -- we would lose a lot of programs if we went to mostly 2 day tournaments.) We have a few: one in November, two in January, then State Quals in February, State in March, and Nat Quals in April.

 

 

Fair. Is coaching a full time job (i.e. are you guys all teachers) or is a eca?

 

Also, even a 4th round would not solve the problem. At the tournament last Saturday, we had 42 PF teams. At the end of 3 powered rounds, we had 7 undefeateds. Even if we had powered a fourth round, we would have had 3 or 4 undefeateds to put into finals. Thus, we still need a tie-breaking system.

 

 

Single elimination till you get two winners??

 

Finally, please understand that I am referring to power-matched tournaments. Thus, the only round which might have a "shitty 0-3" team would be first. After the first round win, the debater/team would be paired against kids who had won their first round, thus a minimum opp record of 1-2.

 

ok.

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well at our tournament we generally have four rounds, except for the single one day tournament, and I dont know how policy is broken, though I do know it is similar, but LD is broken by wins-speaks, we power match, and lets say they break at 3-1, if you have 4-0 you automatically break, then should you have the three-one, they find a place where speaks can be broken to create a cutoff, other than that I'm not really intimately involved in it.

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Tammie, what's the normal schedule of these tournaments? In Ohio, even one-day tournaments usually managed at least 5 PF and LD rounds (sometimes followed by a final). We could usually compact rounds be pre-scheduling the first two round randomly and then computing power pairings for the third during the second (using round one results), so that round three pairings are up very soon after round two is done (and so forth). We would start at either 8 or 9 a.m. and be done usually by 4 p.m.

 

It's important to realize that any system where you must break ties will inevitably make mistakes and "punish" better teams. The trick is to find the system that does this least often, but recognize that it will still happen. Breaking first by opponent wins makes the most sense.

 

Take two 3-0 teams A and B. One of the two is a strong team the other is weak, but we don't know which is which. If A hit tougher opponents than B, then it's more likely than not that A is stronger than B. It's reasonable to assume that both A and B could get wins over weaker teams (although the weaker of the two would have a harder time), however only the strong team would be able to beat other strong teams.

 

However I don't think opponent wins is a good tie-breaker when there are only three rounds because there are too few data points. Inevitably all the opponents of a 3-0 could max out at 2 wins, that means total opp wins for a 3-0 top out at six. And, since the final two rounds are powered, the minimum is 3 (they must hit a 1-0 in the second round and a 2-0 in the third). Since the first round is random, the first round opponent could get 0, 1 , or 2 wins, which means that the first round (the random round) accounts for all but 1 point of the difference in total opp win score between 3-0 teams.

 

So in this case, 2/3 of the possible variation in opp wins is randomly decided, so breaking on opp wins first is not the best system. If the rounds weren't powered, then it would be more legitimate.

 

I would suggest (1) increasing the number of rounds (I know, not necessarily possible), (2) placing two judges, and therefore two ballots, in every round (I know, also not always possible), (3) breaking all 3-0 teams into out-rounds (see below), (4) breaking by total (or average) speaker points which is something that will be more telling than opponent wins among 3-0 teams, and then (5) by opponent wins).

 

On (3) you need only hold one set of outrounds (just like now) you just hold more than one and won't know which one is the final until afterward. In each room, put 3, 5, or 7 judges and treat each ballot separately.

 

Say there are four 3-0 teams, break them into two "final" rounds (and let's say there are 3 judges in each).

 

Team A beats team B winning all 3 ballots.

Team C beats team D on a 2-1 decision.

 

So A and C are still undefeated, but you first break on their record in this round, so A is first, C is second, D is third, and B is fourth. If there is a tie in this final round, then you break on total tournament speaker points (all four rounds), then opp wins, etc. as usual. Increasing the number of judges in the final rounds decreases the probability that there will be ties...

Edited by Fox Sans Socks

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In Texas Forensic Association tournaments, the norm is 3 or 4 prelim rounds followed by quarters. If the number of teams is over 50 there have to be octos. My experience is there are usually octos if there are 40+. I think most hosts believe you should break somewhere about 1/3 of the field in local (qualifying) tournaments.

 

Tiebreaker rules depend on the number of prelim rounds. If there are 3 prelims, the first tiebreaker is total points, followed by adjusted (hi/lo) points. If there are 4 or more prelims, the first tiebreaker is adjusted (hi/lo) points, then total. In tournaments governed by our state activities association (UIL), total points is always the first tiebreaker, ahead of adjusted points.

 

I've always been an advocate for using opponent win-loss record as the first tiebreaker. It may not be perfect, but it's objective. Yes, there's some luck involved in terms of pairings, but I believe it's superior to the subjectivity and randomness of speaker points.

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Ian, since you asked, here is the "normal" schedule. Of course, we have variations on this theme. As I said, there are a few 4-5 round prelim tournaments.

 

Registration 7:00-7:30

Round 1A 8:00 (let's say CX, PF, Drama, Duo, Oratory)

Round 1B 9:45 (let's say LD, Humor, Poetry, National Extemp, Int Extemp)

Round 2A 11:30

Round 2B 1:15

Round 3A 3:30

Finals of Everything 5:45

Awards 7:45

 

That's pretty close to what we did last weekend at the Jeffco Invite. All debate rounds (all 3 types) are powered (not lag-powered). We start at 7:00am and end around 8:30pm -- that's 13 1/2 hours and I don't see us doing much more. As you can see, our non-debate events get the same number of rounds as our debate events. This is true at 90% of the tournaments. (see below for an exception)

 

The waves are determined by number of judges and rooms. We have some pretty hefty tournaments where there are 50 rooms of competition in both waves. At our tournament last weekend, we had 32 rooms of competition in each wave. We had more judges, but we didn't know that until they showed up at the tournament.

 

One variation that is coming up is our league tournament for Jefferson County. Because we are small enough to fit in one building all at once, the schedule goes something like this:

 

Registration 7:00-7:30

Round 1 everything 8:00

Round 2 everything 9:45 (random debate schedule)

Round 3 everything 11:30 (lag power debates based on round 1)

Round 4 debate 1:15 (non-debate get a break) (lag power debates based on rounds 1 and 2)

Semi-Finals of "large" events 3:30

Finals for all events 5:30

Awards 7:30

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I see. In Ohio tournaments usually put PF and LD together since rounds take about 45 mins to complete. All speech is together, taking 60-75 minutes to complete each round. And then CX gets its own schedule (and has the fewest number of rounds).

 

Sometimes these are also flighted within each event, but it doesn't make much sense to make all events follow the schedule of the event that takes the longest. And it's common for each room to be assigned an event, and then it only hosts that event the entire tournament.

 

I understand you guys do things for certain reasons (we also usually split events at large tournaments so all speech is in one building and all debate is in another (e.g. middle and high schools)), but if at all possible, get more rounds for LD and PF. That will solve most of your tie problems and also get your kids more experience.

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I didn't mention it before (interesting the assumptions we make), but all LD and PF rounds are double-flighted. Thus, in the 1 1/2 hours for a CX round, we have 2 45-minute LD and PF debates, and 60 minutes of non-debate speakers.

 

It's also interesting how various schedules have grown up within each region. We, for example, have very few schools next to middle schools. Our feeder middle school for Golden, for example, is 2 miles away. That's definitely the norm for Jefferson County, Denver, Arapahoe County and Douglas County. The only places where middle schools and high schools are close enough to do what you are suggesting is Cherry Creek District, but that's only 4-5 high schools.

 

Also, I wonder about the size of various high schools. Golden has 42 competition rooms max. Granted, we are one of the smaller schools in the area, but not greatly smaller. One problem we have confronted this year is a place to hold State -- none of the large schools were available. Thus, our state organization had to change the date of State.

 

We all make due with what we have. Forensics is a very organic sport -- it grows as it can and according to demand.

 

I am intrigued by the idea of multiple sections of finals for debates. A couple of schools do it, and I was always curious how they chose from the various winners to determine who gets the hardware. However, you'd still have the issue of tie-breaking. If there are an odd-number of undefeateds, someone has to be pulled up--who will it be? Now we're back to the original question.

 

 

Mr. Rove: as per your question, most forensics coaches are teachers. Most programs have classes. At my school, I have one section of forensics (all 10 events blended together) and 4 sections of English. I also have about 10 students on "independent study" contracts, kids who can't fit the forensics class into their regular schedule. We do most of our debate work after school (I rarely leave before 5:00pm). A neighboring school has one section of debate and one section of non-debate events. The rest of the teacher's sections are filled with some other discipline (usually English). In the Denver-metro area, there are some programs which are purely extra-curricular. But most programs are co-curricular.

Edited by tpeters

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It makes zero sense for one-day league tournaments to have "elimination" rounds. Why? Our league does this nonsense and it drives me crazy. You cannot determine the best debater of the day with three prelim rounds. Well, I guess you could if you just have four teams. If you have more than 12 teams, breaking to semis is a crime. And determining who clears on three or four rounds of speaker points is ridiculous. Especially if the judges are parents who will tank your speaker points in a second.

 

League tournaments in California are prep for the state qualifier. Leave it at that. Give trophies to people who go undefeated and a certificate or medal to one-loss teams. Forget "elimination" rounds because they make no sense. I'd rather see everyone get a full four or five rounds than try to pick a winner in these situations. Otherwise, just do a round robin and have the top teams in each pod declared winners.

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Marcus, does that opinion apply to the non-debate events as well? Are 3 rounds inadequate to determine finalists in, say, Drama or Oratory?

 

Just curious. Most of our tournaments around here treat all events basically the same.

 

 

Also Marcus, back to the original purpose of this thread. Let's say you have 5 prelims or 6 or whatever. How do you break ties to create an even number (4 or 8 or whatever) teams in the break rounds? I'm not sure it matters so much when tie-breakers are used -- I am looking for the best way to break such ties, either to leave someone out of outrounds or to bring someone up into them.

Edited by tpeters

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It's also interesting how various schedules have grown up within each region. We, for example, have very few schools next to middle schools. Our feeder middle school for Golden, for example, is 2 miles away. That's definitely the norm for Jefferson County, Denver, Arapahoe County and Douglas County. The only places where middle schools and high schools are close enough to do what you are suggesting is Cherry Creek District, but that's only 4-5 high schools.
Most of the split-school tournaments use schools several miles apart, only one I know of are nearby each other (with a major road in between); it's really like two separate tournaments but with a combined awards ceremony. I know this system might not work well for everyone, especially in areas where it's not commonly done. It does mean splitting teams and requiring an assistant coach, parent, or trustworth student captain (where allowed) to be responsible for the half of the team that isn't with the head coach, but that person can usually do double-duty as a judge. It does mean two separate tab rooms, two different lunchrooms, etc. but a large tournament is usually able to do this without much trouble becuase each handles a smaller load. Most of Ohio's two-day tournaments follow this split-building model too. It significantly reduces congestion in the schools, even when they're full, and also helps with building scheduling when other groups want to use schools.

 

Also, I wonder about the size of various high schools. Golden has 42 competition rooms max. Granted, we are one of the smaller schools in the area, but not greatly smaller. One problem we have confronted this year is a place to hold State -- none of the large schools were available. Thus, our state organization had to change the date of State.
Every Ohio state tournament that I'm aware of has used at least two buildings, some even in adjacent school districts. I don't know how many available rooms the average building has, but even the largest buildings we competed in usually used another building for speech events. Edited by Fox Sans Socks

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Marcus, does that opinion apply to the non-debate events as well? Are 3 rounds inadequate to determine finalists in, say, Drama or Oratory?

 

Just curious. Most of our tournaments around here treat all events basically the same.

 

 

Also Marcus, back to the original purpose of this thread. Let's say you have 5 prelims or 6 or whatever. How do you break ties to create an even number (4 or 8 or whatever) teams in the break rounds? I'm not sure it matters so much when tie-breakers are used -- I am looking for the best way to break such ties, either to leave someone out of outrounds or to bring someone up into them.

 

Thanks for keeping me on message Tammie. Well, individual events are different in that a) you can do more rounds than debate B) three prelim rounds is average c) its not win or lose, you get placed 1-5, so getting a 2 or a 3 doesn't kill you. So three rounds might be a bit tough if there are lots of entries. But I'm not an IE guy, so maybe I'm not seeing this with the bext point of view.

 

As for the tie-break with an appropriate number of prelims, I've advocated head-to-head (if they've met in prelims and are tied, the winner of their round gets the higher seed), then opp wins, then dropping high-low speaker points. I know some people think opp wins hurts if you get a weak draw in preset rounds, but you have to win those rounds for it to matter. Where it gets unfair is at the power matching after those first two rounds. If you are going high-low within brackets, you might be in trouble if you just debated two winless teams during presets. If you are high-high within brackets, you are OK.

Edited by JustACoach

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I am looking for the best way to break such ties, either to leave someone out of outrounds or to bring someone up into them.

 

Here in Georgia at a typical tournament (two-days, 5 prelim rounds) we do high/low speaker points for the tie breaker. I cannot remember off the top of my head where it goes after that but rarely does it need to go past that. Most of these tournaments are breaking to quarters.

 

Edit- I could be wrong, I have not run a tournament in a couple of years but I am still quite sure that my memory is correct.

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Thanks to everyone for helping me with this question.

 

I find it fascinating how tournaments are run in different parts of the country. Coaches around here often complain about the number of one-day tournaments and the length of those days. We used to have multiple-school meets, but those went away because coaches had problems with divided squads.

 

One day is as much as we can sell to our coaches right now. While 5-6 rounds of debates is a great idea, it is difficult for us around here because of certain realities we have to live with. I would definitely worry about losing programs if we went to more multiple-day tournaments or multiple-school tournaments.

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Thanks to everyone for helping me with this question.

 

I find it fascinating how tournaments are run in different parts of the country. Coaches around here often complain about the number of one-day tournaments and the length of those days. We used to have multiple-school meets, but those went away because coaches had problems with divided squads.

 

One day is as much as we can sell to our coaches right now. While 5-6 rounds of debates is a great idea, it is difficult for us around here because of certain realities we have to live with. I would definitely worry about losing programs if we went to more multiple-day tournaments or multiple-school tournaments.

 

Tammy,

 

I guess I'm sort of confused as to why you need to "clear" teams instead of just recognizing the undefeateds and maybe the one-loss teams. In high school, my league realized the futility of trying to hold elims in a one-day tournament. The league where my first coaching job was located did the same thing. They recognized the undefeateds and one loss teams. Can you explain why your league has to have elims in debate with one day tournaments?

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Tammie,

 

I think it would be really sweet to not "bye" a kid into the first place spot of a tournment without having him participate in an elimination debate while still having a debate for second place.

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Marcus: I'm not sure I have a good answer for that. Tradition, I guess. I competed in this area (in fact, I coach at my old h. s.) back in the late 1970s and we've "always" had 3 rounds to finals. We do recognize all undefeateds, usually with finalist ribbons (the big rosettes) and the 2-1 teams with superior ribbons. But we have finals in all events, including the debates. I guess I never really thought about the usefulness of such a structure. I guess part of it is also PR related -- a school can go back home and advertise that a team (or an event person) won 1st at a tournament. I'll have to ponder your question.

 

TheShakeDown: I'm not sure why you feel compelled to discuss something from another thread on this one. I began this conversation to talk about the general concept of breaking ties and which way might be "fairest." You are referring to a very specific example where we had to make a decision very quickly. If anyone else is intersted in that particular situation, you are welcome to look at the thread Jeffco Invite November 15 under the Mountain Forum.

 

Also, I was willing to take your 1st post (the one on the other thread) as joking and good-natured. This one just seems to be asking for conflict and problems. Please keep the focus of this thread on the issue at hand: the philosophy among different ways to break ties.

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Understood, I was just thought the call on the whole jeffco thing was entirely wrong. I would have randomed one of the two 2nd place debaters to debate with the top seed. The fact that the decision was made quickly doesnt excuse it as being poor.

 

That said, i retract the aggressive nature of previous post (if thats possible). Im convinced the only way to avoid the afformentioned situation is to either 1) increase the number of rounds, or 2) limit the field so there can only be two undefeateds at the end of prelims. I think that computerized tab would be a good way to increase the number of rounds and can help with tiebreaks. It gets things moving a lot quicker.

Then again chsaa hates technology so doubtful this will change.

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Marcus: I'm not sure I have a good answer for that. Tradition, I guess. I competed in this area (in fact, I coach at my old h. s.) back in the late 1970s and we've "always" had 3 rounds to finals. We do recognize all undefeateds, usually with finalist ribbons (the big rosettes) and the 2-1 teams with superior ribbons. But we have finals in all events, including the debates. I guess I never really thought about the usefulness of such a structure. I guess part of it is also PR related -- a school can go back home and advertise that a team (or an event person) won 1st at a tournament. I'll have to ponder your question.

 

Yeah. That's why our league does a "final round" as well. Tradition. Next year I will try to defeat that yet again. And I will fail. Yet again.

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