NCFL Massachusetts Combined Qualifier

2023 — Shrewsbury, MA/US

Debate Judge Resources

Helpful links for Debate Judges


You have three jobs:

(1) Decide who won the round:

Judge based on *what you hear in the round*. As much as possible, set aside your opinions and outside knowledge so that neither team is debating *you* implicitly. Also - if a team does not respond to an opponent's argument, then they have *conceded* that argument. Note - During the round, please do not engage in substantive discussion of the arguments with the debaters - e.g., you may not ask them questions about their arguments. Only after you enter your ballot (see below) may you discuss the arguments.Do *not* disclose your decision after the round, even in elimination rounds with multi-judge panels.

(2) Award speaker points

Award each TEAM in the round speaker points ranging from 25 to 30, in half-point increments (e.g., 28 or 28.5).

(2a) Unlike other tournaments - PF judges award one score to each team, rather than one score to each of the four round participants.

(2b) Unlike other tournaments, LD judges may only award whole or half points, not tenth points.

(2c) There are no low point wins.

Consult the scale on the right side of the ballot (scroll down a bit) for guidelines.

(3) Provide written feedback on the ballot

Please focus on why you voted for one team over the other. Which argument or arguments were most important? Why did you find the opponent's responses to those arguments uncompelling? Or - Perhaps both sides had good main points, but one side's arguments were more "weighty" than the other side's. Please be sure to provide*WRITTEN* feedbackon the ballot, even if you also provide oral comments after the round. That way, coaches can see what happened (and the kids won't forget what you said). YOU CAN GO BACK AND EDIT COMMENTS UNTIL THE END OF THE TOURNAMENT.

Note - the speech sequence and durations appear on the right side of the ballot - scroll down a bit.



(1) Do *not* disclose your decision after the round, even in elimination rounds with multi-judge panels. Do not deliver verbal comments that might reveal whom you voted for.

(2) NCFL rules forbid plans and counter plans (true in PF at most tournaments as well).

(3) NCFL rules forbid low point wins. That is, the points awarded to the winner in your round must be no less than the points awarded to the loser.

(4) We may ask some judges to adjudicate rounds in a different division. Because of the limitedpool of judges at this tournament, some PF judges may adjudicate rounds in LD and some LD judges may adjudicate rounds in PF.

(5) Include one sentence at the top of your reason-for-decision declaring whom you voted for. The "reason-for-decision" isthe text box in which you write comments for both entries in your round). For example, at the top of the text box, you might write, "I voted for Team 1234 on the PRO". This sentence serves as a double check for your ballot entry.Please do so immediately after the round while the debate and debaters are fresh in your mind.

(6) The ballots list teams by number (e.g., "Team 1234") and not by school name. We use numeric designations instead of school names to reduce the potential for bias (based on team reputation). Please do not ask students what school they are from. But DO be sure you know which team is which. Keeping track of which team is which when they have numeric designations can be a little trickier. Below, we offer some suggestions - see item (6) under the JUDGE LOGISTICS list.


(1) There is no coin flip (as there is at most tournaments). Instead, the tab staff determines which team is PRO and which is CON. PRO *always* speaks first.

(2) Award one speaker point score to each team, rather than awarding scores to each of the four participants in the round. For example, you might award a 29 to Team 1234 and a 28.5 to Team 5678.


(1) Award speaker points in half point increments, not the usual tenth points. So - 28.5 and 29 are fine. 28.7 is not.



(1) Watch your texts AND emails when the next round is due out (see schedule -here).

(2) If you do not get a message saying you have a round, please be available in the judge lounge areas so that we can find you in case we need backup judges. We will have information on the location of the judge lounge areas by the day of the tournament.

(3) When you get an assignment, you will see a green START button at the top of your Tabroom screen (click on your username in the upper right to see if you have an assignment). Click the START button as soon as you see it! That way, *we* know that *you* know that you have a round assignment. When you click START, your ballot will appear.

(4) Please proceed to your room in a timely manner so that the round can start. Room monitors will check on each room to see if participants are missing.

(5-PF) FOR SIDES AND SPEAKING ORDER in PUBLIC FORUM -Unlike most tournaments, there is no coin flip at this tournament. The tab staff determines which team defends the PRO and which the CON. PRO always speaks first. Just double check with the debaters that what you see on the ballot is what they think is going on.

(5-LD) FOR SIDES AND SPEAKING ORDER FOR LINCOLN DOUGLAS - The tab staff specifies who is AFF and NEG. AFF always speaks first. Just double check with the debaters that what you see on your ballot is what they think is going on.

(6)Before the round starts, make sure you know which team is which.We have two recommendations:

(6a) Ask the PRO / AFF to ALWAYS sit to your LEFT in front of you and the CON / NEG to always sit to your right. That will make intuitive sense because PRO / AFF always speaks first at this tournament. If the debaters have positioned themselves before you arrived in the room, feel free to ask them to switch places if necessary.

(6b) Before the round starts, verbally confirm the team designations. For example, "I have Team 1234 on my left speaking on the PRO, and team 5678 sitting on my right, speaking on the CON".

(6c) Write the team designations at the top of your notes (flow) sheet. So - in the above example, you would write "Team 1234 - PRO" in the upper LEFT corner of your flow sheet, and "Team 5678 - CON" in the upper RIGHT corner of your flow sheet.


(7) Enter your decision when the round concludes - BEFORE speaking to the debaters and BEFORE entering your written comments on the ballot (that's step 8). At this tournament, do NOT disclose whom you voted for or make any comments that may suggest whom you voted for.

(7a) Select the winning team from the drop-down at the bottom of the ballot and by clicking on the radio button indicating their side of the resolution.

(7b) Enter points for each speaker (see guide at right on ballot).

(7c) Click the SUBMIT button at the bottom, right corner of the ballot.

(7d) Remember to click the big, green CONFIRM button after checking that your entries are correct.

(8) Enter your written comments in the REASON FOR DECISION box and, if you have specific comments for either team, enter those comments in the other comment boxes. You may do so through the end of the tournament - although we suggest that you not wait too long because you may not remember details from the round.