As my last debate season finished up with NITOC, I continued to think about debate tactics, strategies, and ways to win the judge. I’m done for crying out loud. I’ve told myself I’m done over a thousand times. It is no use. Most debaters look at this as a time to rest from debate, and take it easy for a while. While you should rest from actual debate, the offseason is when the best NFL football players hit the gym, and when the best NBA players pump out over 200 shots a day. The same is for debate.
Down to Business:
As earlier posts show, I am fixated with the negative side of debate, with leanings towards thoughts and strategies that will boost negs to win more. The Stoa resolution provided the perfect way to do that. In Stoa, there was one case that went unbeaten all year (legitimately unbeaten, it lost two illegitimate rounds earlier on) and the case was beaten in semi’s at NITOC, by a team that had hit it earlier in quarters.
The formula for negs? The 1N had complete freedom of movement while the 2N was confined to focus on DA’s, the 1AC, and the harder points on which the round is usually sold with impact calculus, and voters etc…. The 1N could grab a solvency arguments, mix it in with some agency specification, throw a spending continuing resolution DA in for kicks, and tie the bow with a negative philosophy about how foreign policy is complicated, and the Aff team’s plan is just black and white. However, now that this season is over…how can negs carry through the winning records? This is a two part post. This one focuses on the 1N. The next, a little shorter, focuses on the 2N. My main answer in this post is also two part. 1N’s need to be free and they need to lay the better part of the ground work. I will explain:
I finished my last TP round at about 11am in the morning, in a clean and neat science room, with nice rolling chairs, and a literally perfect judge who had judged over 350 TP rounds, participated and coached both High school and College debaters, taught rhetoric and logic for years, and flowed on a computer. We were Aff against a good team (a team who, despite being somewhat underrated, had debated a tough bracket schedule, and ended up coming out on top. Props if you are reading this.) I knew the round was lost when the 2N got about three minutes through his speech. It was weird. The syllogism and fluidity with which this brother-sister team tore through our 1AC was almost flawless.
I had a neat argument excel sheet, (which Ethos highly recommends) on which I had spent meticulous amounts of time before NITOC. I had all the arguments flowed out for four levels deep. None of the 1N fit on the excel sheet at all. Ok, a little weird, but not too bad, because the 1N is usually creative against our case. The 2A did a beautiful refutation job, like she always does, and sat down. The 2N got up, and after just a few minuets of speaking, you could have just stuck a fork in me. I was witnessing the dismantling and total annihilation of myself, a process which I thought would never happen, and which was surprisingly beautiful to watch. (Only the debaters who are obsessed with debate will understand that last clause). This is how it was done.
1) Originality: The 1N got up and laid unique arguments. She shied away from the normal stuff, and totally ignored the 1AC points. She indirectly responded to the 1AC by bringing up points which both stood on their own, and cross applied to our case. Each points had one or two pieces of evidence under it. Nothing big, just a little bit of probing doubt against the validity and significance of our case.
2) Groundwork laid: The arguments were non-unique insofar as they could be easily beaten (in my mind), but my tactical error was to ascribe straight up refutation to them, rather than see that they were paving the way for something bigger, that would require way more analysis to answer, and thereby eat up my time in the 1AR. The 2N worked beautifully off of what she had built, and put his arguments on the shoulders of his partners
3) Full extension: ( there are two types, I focus on the 1N for now)
The 1N extended her arguments to the max. She left nothing to chance, and had three answers to everything. Evidence, questioning, solvency on specification, and impact calculus. She did not simply “refute” the 2A – she bolstered her own case, and brought through the most important issues with clarity.
I was in a pickle. With the analysis the 2N brought up, I could not simply “reply” to what Neg brought up, I had to “explain” the Aff. That is a bad situation to be in. I had to use at least 20-30sec an argument to explain things. Obviously, my first option was to speed up – and we had the perfect judge to handle speed, so no problem there. The thing is this: you cannot solve explanation and clarification problems with speed. I gave an adequate and throw down 1AR, and even threw in a joke to boot. Yet I was still dead in the water, and I knew it.
To conclude, the 2AR had the easiest job in the world. He simply had to address what I did not have time for, and pick his way through my short responses, find his analysis, and pull it back through. This was all possible because the 1N laid the groundwork that required analysis and in-depth explanation of the case. The 2A can stymy this, but it is still hard because the 2N can skip the 2A’s analysis and refutation.
I know many, many, many awesome 1N’s, but there is one guy who really stands out (He happens to be from my club–no I am not biased) He is original, and he brings the judges focus back to the real world, which is extremely effective. He is not a “powerhouse” debater, but he lays the perfect road for his 2N powerhouse partner. He doesn’t carry mental scissors for shredding the 1AC, he carries a hole-puncher. His combination of general observations, questions, and negative philosophy groundwork make him one of the top notched Neg debaters I know. Outside the round, he is a relaxed, laid back, and sometimes a goof ball, but as soon as postings go up, you can see his game face. So 1N’s, lay the analysis down like crazy, talk about the real world, and extend your arguments. Have fun most of all, and go win your negs.