Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Trying to Figure Out Power-Matching

You know what's hard? Debate. You know what's harder?  Understanding debate. You know what's even harder? Scientifically analyzing debate.

I was at a homeschool party the other day where a super-cool debater I know was trying to explain debate to a non-debater. She took it way farther than I ever dared. In fact, at one point I heard her attempting to explain both speechranks and power-protecting for Nationals, which I know is different than power-matching. But still, both are complicated and hard to explain. Power-protecting is not that difficult of a concept to grasp. Actually, neither is power-matching. What's hard is figuring out how that particular implementation works at a real live tournament.

Ok, so, this was the first round, my third debate tournament ever: My partner and I hit a team that was about our same level (good, but not yet extraordinary), which was a nice way to start off the tournament. However, it was a case I'd never hit before and didn't know a lot about. I figured we lost. That is until the second round, when we hit a team that has 9 checkmarks on speechranks. NINE CHECKMARKS. They only had four or five at at the time, but still, I knew they were really good. I figured we lost that round too. Especially when he hit a team that we had hit at my first debate competition: a very novice team that you know will be good in a few years, but for now they were two twelve-year olds who switched speaker positions every other round, just for fun. I guessed that we won that round, but felt a little better because the other team had improved a lot in the recent months. In the fourth round, we hit a team that had gone 6-0 and won an earlier tournament. Any attempts to figure out/comprehend power-matching went out the window at that point.

Figuring out power-matching is not as easy as it sounds. There are, however, three exceptions: the first is if it sounds really, really, really, really difficult, which is probably accurate. But it is fun, apparently, because lots of people (attempt to) do it and seem to enjoy it. I get it. You want to know how you and everybody else are doing. That's cool; I sympathize. The second is if you're a genius and have a knack for this sort of thing. And some people do. I don't understand. Maybe it just comes with a lot of practice, of which I have little. Maybe you just have to know the teams really well to know who's the best, or know the judge pool too, to know when something abnormal may occur. Which it often does. Oh, the third is if you're in tab and have it on a computer in front of you. That probably makes it really easy.

What about you? What's your experience with attempting to solve the mysteries of power-matching? And is there like a secret formula that nobody's told me about or something?

You're homeschooled. So am I, which you probably figured out.


  1. There IS a secret formula. LOL. I've predicted 6 out of 8 on the last three tourneys. :D

  2. Anonymous poster, do you have something you'd like to share with the class? ;)

  3. I collect the powermatchings, and then upload them into a word document. I then assign records to the BYE teams and then use that initial info confirm at least a few matches per round. This gives me a start.

    Then from there, I may make a couple assumptions. For instance, if the top team hits another top team in Rd 3, you know they both are 2-0. Then i go back and redo those rounds. There are a lot of other tricks of the trade which are too complicated to detail here but by trying to make sure very single round matches and reworking till you get it, you can get most of the teams.

  4. Dude. That is dedication. This is why I said it was hard. :P