The following is the document from Aaron Timmons and Frank Seaver, in aid of next week's discussion..
MPJ: The Perspective from the Tab Room
The goal of this document is to enhance the transparency regarding how decisions are made in the tab room when it comes to assigning judges. It is my belief that the primary responsibility of the individual assigning judges into debates is to do so in a way that is both equitable while trying to meet the competitive interests for all the competitors. We continually try to make changes and improvements to our system with that vision in mind. I believe that the more decisions that a coach/team can make before the tournament to communicate their wishes and intent, the better the tab room can then provide a positive and rewarding experience. To that end, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, since I will be taking care of finishing the Round Robin Friday evening, my ability to answer questions may be limited as the MPJ deadline approaches. I will try.
FILLING OUT THE MPJ FORM
I think there are two basic strategies to ranking judges. Some coaches like to rank the judges from most preferred to least preferred – and then assign their categories in a hierarchal fashion from that list. A second approach is to rank judges based on who they would prefer to have judge their team relative to the other teams in the tournament. For example, you may think (it is 1992 and) that Aaron Timmons is the best judge in the pool and rank him as a #1. However, if you also felt that – for whatever reason – that Timmons was a better (ie: more strategic) judge for most of your competition in the pool, then this second approach would rank Timmons lower (and may even strike him). Neither approach is “right” or “wrong.” The second approach can be riskier. However, the second approach can also pay off with nice strategic dividends in the elimination debates by producing better panels given the norms we will use in assigning judges. Coaches that adopt this approach frequently wish to strike all supplemental judges that are offered once the tournament starts with the goal being to preserve their 1 category to be as small as possible knowing that the tab room will do everything they can to ensure all 1s in elimination debates (and sometimes that can backfire). I am sure this may be self-evident to some/most. But I do want to expose the way these competing philosophies play out in some not-so obvious ways given my vantage point behind the computer. There are times when the person at the computer has to make subjective decisions. I would prefer to have guidance from each school (like the MPJ system is trying to do to begin with) regarding how to handle these situations.
THE HIGHEST-RATED CATEGORY: TO EXCEED OR TO JUST MEET THE MINIMUM
Some coaches may desire to have as many “true” 1s in their first category as possible. That may mean that they assign more judge units to the first category than is required. Of course, this decreases the amount of units required for the second category (e.g. for this year’s allocation requirements, at least 12.5% of the judge units must be 1s, 25% must be 2 or higher; 37.5% must be 3 or higher, 50% must be 4 or higher). Here is something important given the new way we will be pairing prelim debates. If you exceed the number of units in a category, while that will increase the likelihood of having that judge in a mismatched debate (meaning: the judge is a 1 for you and a 2 for the opposition), it also means that in mutually preferred judging situations (1 and 1), the discrepancy in mutuality could be larger than normal. Example: lets say only ten judges are needed to meet your 1 category – but you decide to place Timmons in that group as your 11th judge.
There may be times where the fairest pairing is a 1-2 situation, which could mean you get your very top #1 judge in the pool who happens to be a 2 for the opposition. Great! However, that also means that a mutual 1-1 debate could result in Timmons being the judge who is technically your 11th most preferred by your opponents very top #1 judge. Not so good because that discrepancy is larger than what the categories try to allow for. Also important for our changes this year: because we are purposely matching lower-ranked but mutual judges for some of the prelims, smaller allocations in lower categories may actually put you in disadvantageous 2-1 situations. This is something to think about regarding the strategy of your allocations.
WHICH DO YOU PREFER: MUTUALITY OR YOUR HIGHER RANKED JUDGE?
Tab rooms face this question often. What do we do in situations where, for example, there are no available mutual 1s or 2s. Do we put in a mutual 3 (or 4) or do we place a judge that is a 2 for one team but a 1 for another team. This goes back to philosophy and strategy. Some coaches just want the best judge available. Other coaches want the judge where there seems to be the level-est of playing fields relative to their competition. Our default for this tournament is to privilege mutuality when faced with this problem. However, we appreciate that when faced with either a 3-3 (or 4-4) situation versus a 2-1 (or 3-2) option, some coaches would prefer the mismatched judge that the other team prefers even more. IF THIS IS THE DEFAULT YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO ASSIGN FOR YOUR TEAM(S) – EMAIL ME AND I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN. I need to have this email sent to me by the MPJ deadline, I will not allow coaches to tinker after the tournament starts.
TRANSPARENCY: OUR HIERARCHY FOR ASSIGNING JUDGES
This is the formula we will use to assign judges. However, there is one unpredictable intangible that plays a role, which has to be implemented at the discretion of the tab room relating to deciding when to complete a judge’s commitment to the tournament. In theory, the tab room wants to delay as long as possible the fulfillment of judges who are not committed for every preliminary debate. The more judges that are available as the tournament moves on, the better the statistical probability of producing the most highly mutually preferred debates. There may be times where the tab room bypasses these rules (by opting for the next option if no other options are available) in some situations to keep judges available for later prelim debates. Example: Lets say you are 3-0 and the only mutual 3-3 with your opponent is Timmons – but he only has one more round of commitment left. If no other 3-3s are available, then we might choose to place an available mutual 2-2 judge to ensure that Timmons is available for a later debate (where he may be a 1-1 and more valuable to the tournament).
3-3; 4-4; 2-2; 1-1; 3-4; 2-3; 1-2; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
0-2: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
1-1: 2-2; 1-1; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
2-0: 3-3; 4-4; 2-2; 1-1; 3-4; 2-3; 1-2; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
1-2: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
2-1: 2-2; 1-1; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
3-0: 3-3; 4-4; 2-2; 1-1; 3-4; 2-3; 1-2; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
0-4: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
2-2: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
3-1: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
4-0: 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-1; 2-3; 1-2; 3-4; 2-4; 1-3; 1-4; 5-5.
1-3: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
0-4: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
3-2: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
4-1: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
5-0: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
2-3: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
1-4: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.
0-5: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 1-2; 2-3; 3-4; 1-3; 2-4; 1-4; 5-5.