Osterweis Debate

April 7, 2019

Complete Tournament Rules

The Osterweis Tournament is conducted in the Osterweis Parliamentary Debate style, as explained below. However, don't worry if you are a little confused by this! We'll have a demo round before the tournament starts.


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.

Before the round, a spreadsheet with opponents, rooms, and judges will be displayed.


The resolution is a short statement of fact that serves as the topic of debate. Three resolutions will be given before each round—the Government team chooses which to debate. If they wish, they may interpret the resolution more narrowly than given (e.g., “Court penalties should be determined by judges, not juries” may be applied only to civil cases, rather than criminal cases). All Osterweis resolutions will concern American political issues that should be familiar to the average high school student.

All debaters will go to their rooms after pairings are read, where judges will read the three resolutions. Then:
1. There will be a coin flip.
2. The winner of the coin flip will decide whether that team would like to pick resolution or side.
3. The resolution will be chosen.
4. The team that did not choose the resolution will choose their desired side.
5. Each time has 15 minutes to prep.

Sample past resolutions:


After the resolution has been read, teams will be given fifteen minutes to prepare arguments for their prospective sides. We recommend that team 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) - 7 minutes
Leader of the Opposition's Constructive (LOC) - 8 minutes
Member of Government's Constructive (MG) - 8 minutes
Member of Opposition's Constructive (MO) - 8 minutes
Leader of the Opposition's Rebuttal (LOR) - 4 minutes
Prime Minister's Rebuttal (PMR) - 5 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. For example, if the Prime Minister argues in a debate about vegetarianism that human suffering and animal suffering should be weigned equally, a good Point of Information would be, "So you would also ban all animal testing?" This shows the intuitive problem with the argument.

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