John C. Adams Memorial
Intramural Debate Tournament

April 25th, 2021

Complete Tournament Rules

The Adams Cup is conducted in a modified form of the Osterweis Parliamentary Debate style, as explained below. However, don't worry about learning all these rules! We'll also go over everything in the briefing before round one.


Parliamentary debate features a Government team and an Opposition team, each with two debaters. The Government strives to prove that the given resolution is correct, whilst the Opposition attempts to prove the resolution incorrect. Teams will have the opportunity to debate as both Government and Opposition over the course of the tournament.

During the twenty-five minute debate, each team gives three speeches. A judge evaluates both the arguments and the speaking skills of each debater. The team that best supports their side of the resolution wins.


Friday before the Cup, topic areas for each round’s resolution will be released.

Specific resolutions will be announced fifteen minutes prior to each round. The resolution takes the form of a short normative claim. At the Adams Cup, resolutions are designed to be balanced (easily debatable for both sides) and closed (not open to any interpretation). Both issues affecting the Yale community and the wider world may be the subject of resolutions.

Sample past resolutions:

Just prior to the reading of the resolution, a spreadsheet with sides, opponents, rooms, and judges will be displayed.


After the resolution has been read, teams will be given fifteen minutes to prepare arguments for their prospective sides. We recommend that teams try to develop two to three arguments. No outside sources may be used during prep!

Speaking Positions

On each team, one debater is the lead speaker and the other is the member. The leader delivers the opening and closing speeches for their team. The member presents the middle speech.

For the Government, the leader is known as the Prime Minister (PM) and the member is called the Member of Government (MG). On the Opposition team, the debaters are the Leader of Opposition (LO) and the Member of Opposition (MO).

Speaking Times

Each team will have twelve minutes in total to speak, divided as follows:
Prime Minister's Constructive (PMC) - Four minutes
Leader of the Opposition's Constructive (LOC) - Five minutes
Member of Government's Constructive (MG) - Five minutes
Member of Opposition's Constructive (MO) - Five minutes
Leader of the Opposition's Rebuttal (LOR) - Two minutes
Prime Minister's Rebuttal (PMR) - Three minutes

Judges will hold speakers strictly to these time constraints.

Rules for Speeches

In parliamentary debate, new arguments may only be made in constructive speeches, the first four speeches of the round. Judges will ignore new arguments made in the final two rebuttal speeches. The purpose of a rebuttal speech is to sum up the round and explain why one's side won the debate.

Points of Information

During any constructive speech, either debater from the team that is not speaking may stand to ask a Point of Information. This is a question designed to advance one's own arguments or undercut those of the opponent. The speaker may choose to take the Point of Information or to wave the questioner back to his or her seat.

The speaker may choose to take the Point of Information or to wave the questioner back to his or her seat.