Tournament Information and Rules


The Lafayette Debates Western Championship will be held at the University of Southern California, Saturday-Sunday, March 30-31, 2019, in Wallis Annenberg Hall, 3630 Watt Way  Los Angeles, CA 90089.



Breakfast & Check-In  9:00 

Round 1  9:45

Round 2  11:00

Lunch 12:30

Round 3  2:00

Round 4  4:00


Announcement of Semifinalists 9:30

Semifinals / Student Deliberations / Breakfast 9:45 am

Finals 11:00 am


The Lafayette Debates Western Championship consists of four preliminary rounds to take place on Saturday, and a deliberative exercise, semifinal, and final rounds to take place on Sunday.

Each round will last about an hour and will involve two competing teams of two to three debaters each. Debaters will be responsible for keeping their own time, and attending to the order of their speeches. 

Speech times are as follows:

1st Affirmative Speaker:  6 minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Negative Speaker:  4 minutes

1st Negative Speaker: 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Affirmative Speaker:  4 minutes

2nd Affirmative Speaker:  6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Negative Speaker:  4 minutes

2nd Negative Speaker: 6 minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Affirmative speaker:  4 minutes

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Affirmative Rebuttal: 6 minutes

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Negative Rebuttal: 6 minutes


Cross examination is an essential element of the debate format for the  Lafayette Debates Western Championship. It is also an element that requires debaters to cooperate in good faith with their opponents to some extent, which may be a complicated proposition in a competitive debate.

Cross examination can be an invaluable tool for moving debates “forward” by establishing undisputed facts, clarifying areas of agreement, isolating areas of dispute, and allowing rigorous examination of opposing arguments. Cross examinations may be far less productive, however, if debaters waste cross examination time so as to avoid having their arguments clarified and scrutinized by answering questions that haven’t been asked, filibustering, and otherwise failing to directly and succinctly answer questions to the extent possible. In such cases, debates may even become hostile as cross examiners may be forced to talk over their opponent to prevent their opponent from dominating the cross examination period.

For these reasons, when determining the winning team and assigning speaker points judges will favor debaters who respond to questions directly and succinctly to the extent possible and disfavor debaters who consistently fail to do so. “To the extent possible” is an essential qualifier to this requirement. Debaters should be allowed reasonable time to answer “open” questions or any other questions that cannot be answered in succinct fashion.

Rebuttal Speeches

The round will conclude with two six minute speeches. (There are no cross examinations after these last two speeches.) During these last two speeches debaters are encouraged to explain to judges why the primary arguments they have presented in their earlier speeches are collectively more persuasive than those of their opponents as regards the core question raised by the topic.

Debaters should not present new primary arguments for or against the topic in either of the last two speeches, although they may respond to arguments presented by their opponents.

During preliminary rounds each team member must give two of the rebuttals along with their opening speech.

Responsible Advocacy

Students should be responsible advocates. This includes confirming the “facts” they intend to present and correctly framing and introducing any evidence on which they are relying. Teams and debaters that present false statements of facts and/or misframe evidence should be marked down substantially and this may be a reason to vote against a team in an otherwise close debate. There is a difference between a debater misstating a point and a debater advancing a fact supporting their argument that is demonstrably false or citing evidence in a highly misleading manner.