Chris Kymn Wins the 2014 USC Tournament



















Los Angeles, CA- Congratulations to Loyola’s Chris Kymn for defeating PV Peninsula’s James Zhang to win the 2014 USC Touranment. Chris won the tournament without dropping a ballot. Chris is coached by Michael Overing, John Scoggin, Bob Overing, Tom Placido, Tim McHugh, Ashan Peiris, Adam Bistagne, and Benjamin Koh. James is coached by Scott Wheeler, Akash Gogate, Henry Zhang, and Chris Theis.



1) Loyola CK def. 16) PV Peninsula JL (Jonas Le Barillec) (Solomon, O’Krent, Cowger)

2) HW CC def. 15) Loyola NR (Nicholas Rogers) (Adlerete, Torson, Solomon)

14) HW NS over 3) HW AK (Annie Kors)

13) Brentwood JR over 4) Brentwood JL (Jackson Lallas)

12) Del Mar VB def. 5) Brentwood JC (Jacob Chorches) (Bob Overing, Placido, Harris)

6) HW SH def. 11) Lynbrook DW (Dhruv Walia) (Lovell, Cowger, Michael Overing)

10) PV Peninsula JZ def. 7) Brentwood CH (Carson Horky) (*Bob Overing, Placido, Harris)

8) Loyola MG def. 9) Immaculate Heart AS (Ariel Shin) (Alderete, Torson, *Fife)



1) Loyola CK over 8) Loyola MG (McKay Giller)

10) PV Peninsula JZ def. 2) HW CC (Cameron Cohen) (Cowger, Placido, Harris)

6) HW SH over 14) HW NS (Nick Steele)

12) Del Mar VB def 13) Brentwood JR (Jacob Reiter) (Peiris, Torson, Bob Overing)



1) Loyola CK vs. 12) Del Mar VB (Torson, Weiss, Fife)

6) HW SH vs. 10) PV Peninsula JZ (Cowger, Bob Overing, Placido)



1) Loyola CK def. 10) PV Peninsula JZ (James Zhang) (Cowger, Torson, Fife)



1) Annie Kors- Harvard Westlake

2) Chris Kymn- Loyola

3) McKay Giller- Loyola

4) Ariel Shin- Immaculate Heart

5) Cameron Cohen- Harvard Westlake

6) James Zhang- PV Peninsula

7) Dhruv Walia- Lynbrook

8) Jackson Lallas- Brentwood

9) Jacob Chorches- Brentwood

10) Shelby Heitner- Harvard Westlake

11) Varun Bhave- Del Mar

12) Jacob Reiter- Brentwood

13) Christian Paz- Loyola

14) Louisa Melcher- Immaculate Heart

15) Noah Simon- Harvard Westlake

16) Nick Steele- Harvard Westlake

17) Annie Gersh- Marlborough

18) David Dosch- Jmhsdebate

19) Joe Zaghrini- Strake Jesuit

20) Nicholas Rogers- Loyola





  • mcgin029

    I would be open to making it a rule that higher (initial) seed has to advance. That would prevent this practice of artificially giving your 32nd seed sophomore an easy road to the bid. I say this as a coach who has done that — at Harker in 2006 or 2007, we advanced a sophomore to finals by coaching him over two of the best debaters in the country, both of whom were seniors. He won one debate (octos) and then skated to finals and the bid. It was his only bid and it was highly artificial (though he was a fine second year debater). Appropriately, he did *not* get the At Large.

    • MichaelOvering

      Ben makes the point that there are solid reasons for allowing a lower-ranked debater to advance, especially as we sought a second bid for him. A tournament rule that would have prevented this? I can’t support that.
      As a coach who has experience with my #1 seeded debater losing to the #64 seed, I simply do not agree that the lower-ranked debater is not competitive. They cleared; they won the round; they’ve earned the right to debate and the right move on and I sincerely hoped they’d win the tournament.
      It isn’t fair to say that because the debater was ranked 64th or 32nd or 16th that they are strugs and shouldn’t compete. If that were the case, we can simply break to finals and skip all of the intermediate outrounds.

    • Tom Cameron

      That wouldn’t matter anyways. If I had been the 1st seed debater in that scenario, I’d have just dropped out of the tournament. The tournament couldn’t force me to compete.

      Also why would you make the higher initial seed advance? That would mean that if a debater was the 32nd seed and managed to beat the 1st seed, they would be forced to drop to a teammate who was something like the 4th seed, who in theory shouldn’t be as good as the one who the 32nd seed had just beaten.

      • Rebar Niemi

        Wait. Are you serious. If you were the #1 and you had to debate the #64 you would just forfeit? Wow.

      • Rebar Niemi

        Oh nvm just understood what scenario you were talking about. LOL

  • mcgin029

    The correct time to break brackets is never. Prelim seeding is what it is. If you break the bracket you by definition advantage at least one debater (because someone has to move up at least one seed) and disadvantage at least one other debater (someone has to move down at least one seed.) Messing with the bracket is a huge can of worms. Don’t do it.

    Breaking the bracket also magnifies the advantage of weaker debaters on stronger teams by guaranteeing that not only can they avoid hitting their top varsity teammates in prelims, but they are protected from being walked over in elims. It’s really great to be the sophomore teammate of the best senior in the country because wherever you go you’ll be the one 2nd year who can’t hit that kid in prelims. The fact that you can get walked over balances that out somewhat.

    Second, the advantages to being on a large team, vis a vis walkovers, are exactly balanced out by the disadvantages. That is, sometimes the walkover gives you a “free win,” but for every one free win there is exactly one “unearned loss.”

    Third, large teams are a good because they promote debate to more students. I’m all for the lone wolf who overcomes lack of resources or district interest to fashion a debate career, but far better is the debater or coach who starts a program that can systematically give debate opportunities to dozens or hundreds of debaters over the years. Debate is a fun game and we all like to win, but at the end of the day it’s an academic activity the goal of which is to provide learning opportunities to students, and the more students who are served, the better.

    Tom Cameron –

    First, you can absolutely at-large off of a ghost bid. Ask Jon Kwan. And, no, you need not debate a round prior to receiving the ghost bid. That is an oft-repeated inaccuracy.

  • Debater

    Why not let the debaters from the same school debate each other? I simply do not understand why the only two choices are a walkover or breaking brackets. It makes the most logical sense to let the debaters debate it out if they are from the same school and meet in elimination rounds. While there are some cases (like with Annie this weekend) where a debater may be willing to let his or her teammate advance voluntarily, I can promise in a majority of instances, the debater that gets walked over will be upset. It is not fair for a debater to put in the work, time and effort to make it to elimination rounds, and then not have a shot to beat their own teammate to continue advancing, if it is left up to the coach to decide. Put a three-judge panel in the back of the room, same as any other round, and let the judges determine who deserves to advance. If a situation arises where one teammate wants to let the other one advance, that teammate could simply concede the round, it is not difficult.

    • Samantha Hom

      Because this would essentially make being on a team pointless…if debaters could hit people from their own school what incentive would people on the same team have to prep together/help each other out if they knew that doing so could potentially hurt themselves competitively

      • David Joannides

        people can’t complain about big teams anymore, and it drives up the supply for LD coaches since people on teams would now want their own coach. whats the disad?

        • Jonathan Horowitz

          There are many many problems with this:

          1. Most people who get into the national circuit do it because their teams do some form of debate. People are “lone wolves” because their teams either a. travel very little or b. specialize in a different event (Fordham is a speech powerhouse, many different policy teams have that one LDer who is very good, etc.). However, most debaters usually have a team of some sort. For example, people might have considered Tom Cameron a lone wolf but as someone who coached him and those 5 other LDers mentioned in my earlier post I can assure he had teammates (even if they weren’t TOC level). Tom is not a debater without the Loyola Blakefield team. Just like you are not a debater without the Fordham team. The lone wolf I coach now would not have been in debate without his school’s team etc. There would be very few people here without teams.

          2. Money! Debate is already an elitist activity and having a team take a lot of the expenses out of debate. I have never had to pay for a debate tournament in my life and while my experience is very rare, that allows many more people to try debate who otherwise can’t. Almost every team subsidizes travel to some extent and that allows many underprivileged debaters a chance to compete and win against the best. Moreover, your argument about coaches becoming more expensive just furthers my point about elitism because then only the truly wealthy will be able to get the adequate coaching and judging necessary to be elite. Sure Valley (as a public school who has a large team) can have a two or three great debaters who can afford to travel to tournaments every year but if they can’t afford coaches than they will be at a disadvantage to those who can. The worst thing that can happen to debate is to make it an exclusively elitist activity. Teams help prevent that.

          3. Camaraderie. The friendships that happen between teammates and among teams are generally greater than those that happen between teams. While I have many friends in debate some of my closest were those who debated with me at GBN (even if they have left the activity). Teammates share the same jokes (Donovan is a terrible driver!), have the same travel horror stories, know the same judges etc. Not everybody has the same experience with teams but as someone who has been at tournaments with one debater vs. tournaments with many kids (either as a coach or competitor) those with more teammates tend to be more fun.

          4. Tournament hosting. Many of the schools with big teams also happen to host big tournaments (Apple Valley, Valley, Harvard Westlake, Greenhill, etc.). Those schools will not have an incentive to host those tournaments if they cannot use that money to help their debaters, especially through travel and coaching support. Tournaments are a service to the community and they are really really difficult to put on. Aaron Timmons, Dave McGinnis, Jon Cruz, etc. can do better things with their time than spend months figuring out how to run their tournament. While colleges might still put on tournaments if we kiss HS tournies good bye than the season will be much worse. Even if tournaments are not there to turn a profit (and there are tournaments that don’t try to) it would still put a dent in the schedule and scrambling to fill these shoes for other tournies would be really really bad.

          I think there are more but those 4 are a good start.

          • David Joannides

            I agree with you, my comment was in jest and meant to satirize people who still complain about “big schools”

          • Sarah McDonagh

            Teams are great but I don’t think there’s a (good) argument here that they’re not great, more of an argument that compounding a privileged debater with a privileged debate team probably results in some unequal…privileges, which people are probably justifiably angry about. Debaters from underprivileged programs are always going to conflate at least part of debaters from large programs’ success with the fact that the VAST MAJORITY of these large programs are private schools which makes people think Big Tuition Big Money Rich Debater and/or Big Tuition Big Money Rich Program.

            It sucks that debaters from schools like these are sometimes afforded easier paths to the bid than the rest of us. Debate is oftentimes elitist and almost always classist and it totally blows, but that’s a structural problem that altering the rules probably won’t change, at least until the Revolution #NoWarButClassWar

    • McKay Giller

      I am unsure if these are the official reasons, but here are some reasons I think that wouldn’t be a good alternative:
      1. It would put teammates against each other and encourage hiding prep from each other. If I was gonna hit Chris at a tournament, I would want prep he didn’t know about so that I could have a competitive advantage. Further, I think it hurts friendships and relationships among teammates to “battle it out.” Especially if one debater feels screwed over by the panel or the decision.
      2. In most cases, everyone knows each other’s prep. I (think, at least) I know everything Chris could read meaning the round would probably be unfair for the aff.
      3. Most teams’ coaches would probably force, or at least encourage, the round to be fixed. If there is no need, as in no one needs a bid, for one to walk over the other, then whoever has a higher chance of winning the tournament would be the coach’s choice (usually). So, the round would probably end up being fixed anyway.

    • BenjaminKoh

      Samantha and Mr. Giller are on point. This posts conflates being upset at the situation of being walked over and being upset at the person walking over you. Last year, Chris let me walk over him in Doubles at Stanford because I was searching for bid #2 despite his being the much higher seed. I know he was disappointed, but Chris was willing to do so. Chris, however, didn’t secretly plot his revenge against me. In fact, he helped me out for scouting/ prepping for my bid round as a good teammate would.

      This is not to suggest that coaches shouldn’t allow their own debaters to debate it out when they decide so. For example at a national qualifier one year in policy, we had two teams that hit debate it out because it decided who would go to nationals or not and there weren’t any mitigatory factors (both teams were 2nd years, not seniors, equal records, etc.) However, this seems like a fairly unnecessary and harmful formality if instituted as a policy, not as a choice.

      Plus, if you (generic you) are really THAT MAD at your teammate who’s walking over, you probably need to be a LOT less antagonistic in general.

      • McKay Giller

        lol “Mr. Giller”

      • Mathew Pregasen

        Ben, whose Chris? Don’t you mean Space Warrior?

  • Anon Debater

    To the Harvard Westlake Team, Mr. Bietz, and Tom. I’m sorry if my comment offended you. The point of the comment was not to slander the Harvard Westlake team to to illustrate the point that give tab the ability to break the bracket would make the practices that Confused talked about even worse. Also as a side note: Congrats to Shelby and Nick for qualing this weekend!

  • sjadler

    I don’t mean to be obtuse, but collapsing Confused’s objections below to a debate about HW/Bietz/big schools’ advantages and disadvantages seems to miss the real point. I think the real question being asked is whether tournaments should break brackets in elims to avoid teammates debating (and thus eliminating ghost bids/walk-overs, or at least greatly reducing).

    Michael Overing points out below that it’s worth having a discussion about when to break brackets. I think that’s what Confused is truly asking about, and honestly I’d appreciate hearing about some of the merits/disadvantages as well. I think saying that “tab would decide it” is also incorrect, because you could have a pre-specified method for how to break brackets, and you could employ the oversight that Bietz describes below.

    • Tom Cameron

      I still think that my earlier point addresses the breaking of brackets.
      Refraining from breaking the brackets creates the most accurate
      determination of where one should be in relation to the rest of the pool
      during outrounds. If someone wants to challenge the validity of a
      system that pairs 1-16, 2-15, 3-14, et cetera, then I don’t know how I’d
      answer that. However, given that this is the system that tends to be
      used, it seems to me that the number indicate breaking the brackets is a
      bad idea.

    • MichaelOvering

      Anyone interested in reading arguments for/against breaking brackets can read a little about the history in Jon Bruschke’s “How to Tab,” available on Fullerton’s website. The main arguments for/against breaking brackets appear at pages 56-58. While it does not answer whether we “should” break brackets, it does offer some pretty good practical insights.

    • Confused

      Yeah, thats the main point i’m making. Thanks for clarifying

  • Confused

    How is it fair or logical that a debater can get a TOC bid without having to debate a single debate in elimination rounds. I understand that the “rules allow it”, but it’s really messed up and just shows the advantage that large schools have.

    Some debaters have difficulty in attending tournaments, let alone prep and win a bunch of elims. USC was the last bid oppurtunity, and to have debaters just get a free ride to a bid by never debating strikes me as “unfair”.

    Note: I use quotation marks around the word unfair, because I can’t find a better word to desribe it. srry if nut gud enuf wrd

    • Tom Cameron

      Well the alternative is to allow tab rooms to decide who gets to debate who instead of having a system that’s unbiased decide it. Wouldn’t that be more problematic? Also – the fact that someone gets coached over a teammate doesn’t make that much of a difference. Annie decided to withdraw from the tournament of her own accord because she wanted someone else who she liked to get a bid. I did the same thing as a debater for people I liked despite not having a team. Plus, what makes HW a large school? They do their own work and work hard at it. Difficulty attending tournaments is one thing, but having teammates is something entirely different.

      Oh, and where do you get the idea that they got bids without debating? Do prelims not count any more? Does being in the top group of kids to qualify for outrounds not mean anything?

      • Confused

        My point isn’t to “hate on big schools” I take no stance on that issue. However, the current rule DOES give a significant advantage to large schools who have a bunch of people who clear. At semis bids and finals bids, it’s expected that a debater will debate in elimination rounds and win some to get a TOC bid. However, being able to just walk over a bunch of teammates means thatl they can get a bid without having to do what other debaters who don’t have the benefit of having debaters to flood the elims bracket

        Sure prelims do matter but elims are a truer test of skills. The elim brackets at bid tournaments are usually full of the top debater and bid rounds are also usually full of tough competition.

        Also, if clearing is sufficient to bid, then I should bid because i went 5-2 at Berkeley and 4-2 at voices

        Also, forgive me if i’m wrong here, becuase i don’t have a detailed understanding of the way brackets are created, but isn’t there away to set elim rounds in a way in which teams from the same school don’t debate each other. At some local tournaments i’ve attended, the elim pairings are made such that two debaters from the same school don’t hit each other.s

        • Anon Debater

          The bracket is determined by prelim seeding. If a debater is lucky enough to get walked over in the bid round as well as the round before thats how luck plays out. There are tournaments where you will hit good people in Dubs (ie Pranav vs Ram and Stanford) or instances where one debater will be placed in the easier side of the bracket. Even at large tournaments there will be instances in which team mates walk over each other due to seeding.

          Clearing is not a reason why you deserve a bid. If everyone got a bid for clearing, there would be no prestige or merit in attending TOC because there would be so many people.

          The way that brackets work is determined by pre-sets. While at local tournaments, where they are dominated by a small group of schools, breaking the bracket maybe seem more reasonable. However, at large national circuit tournaments, giving tab the discretion to decide parings, schools like Harvard Westlake, who has Bietz running tab, will most certainly give their debaters an advantage.

          • Tom Cameron

            The last claim there is silly. The whole reason that people like Bietz don’t do that is because they have some integrity. The fact that someone has the capacity to give themselves an advantage doesn’t mean that they’re going to. Bietz isn’t in the activity solely to win or else he’d encourage his debaters to debate like I did. Harvard Westlake has significantly higher ethical standards regarding evidence, competitive equity, and really anything else “ethical” relating to debate than most teams, especially people without larger teams. That’s why Harvard Westlake discloses their cases, but don’t feel the need to run shitty theory shells to make other people. They recognize that they do have some advantage over other.

          • Anon Debater

            I’m not bashing on Bietz. I’m simply saying giving tab the discretion will almost certainly skew things even more.

          • bietz

            The computer does all the powering and pairing. There was one round that required some manual pairing… that was round 6. (Why is explained below). But at this point I stopped and discussed with Bob, Gordon (the USC director), what was happening and they could look as it was being paired.

            The problem was three-fold. First, too many of the debaters in the lowest bracket were from the same school. Second, most of them had already debated people in the bracket directly above them. Too many people who were due to be on one side had too many people in any given bracket.

            3 debaters were undefeated, and if memory serves, 2 were due to affirm. So we had to pull someone up who was due to negate. We did that by pulling up the individual who had the lowest opponent wins from the bracket below. That person happened to be from the school that already had someone in the undefeated bracket. So there is only one pairing possibility.

            Pairings were done by placing the highest seeded aff against the lowest seeded neg (who was not from their same school, or that they had not debated before) and continuing on.

            After that, the number of pull-ups became more per bracket. By the time we got to the two win bracket we had to actually collapse the 2-win bracket all the way to the no-win bracket just to make the pairing work. We had to give the bye to a team that had a win to make side constraints work, which is the first priority in round 6. That was the lowest seeded 1-win team that had not already received a bye.

            This was the only round that was manually paired.

            And, for the record, we weren’t the school with the most entries. Implying we somehow flooded the pool to skew the bracket is uninformed. In fact, we moved students who had done Varsity all year into the JV to avoid that problem, given the pool size. We also did not allow other Varsity debaters compete to avoid doing that. Here are schools with the most entries- Brentwood: 7; Del Mar: 5; HW: 5; Loyola 7: Meadows: 6.

            As for the accusation that HW debaters would receive an easier draw through the tournament. Annie actually had the toughest draw out of everyone, with her opponents having an average 3.83 wins and a seed of 15.2. Shelby was tied for like 4th toughest, Cameron 6th. There *were* people who cleared who had opp wins in the under 3-win range.

          • MichaelOvering

            I want to point out that whenever a debater is coached-over, the forfeiting debater is likely to be disappointed. Loyola, HWL and Brentwood all had to make decisions about who would advance in elims. Did the non-advancing debater work less hard? Not likely. But, coaching over is probably the most common practice for resolving these situations.
            There are two principal alternatives to coaching over: (1) have the debaters debate it out or (2) break brackets.
            A discussion of the rules for when it is appropriate to break brackets and the procedures for re-pairing after breaking brackets is a discussion worth having. But if the tournament does not have a rule that allows you to break brackets, then the coach will make the decision. It also means that some debaters (Annie/McKay/Nick/Jackson, each of whom is a terrific competitor), won’t get to debate and that the advancing debater gets a bigger prize.

        • Tom Cameron

          There is a solution to it. In normal circumstances, one person receives a “ghost bid” and the other advances with an actual bid. Ghost bids don’t function for the purpose of qualling in themselves but can qualify someone that has earned another bid. A ghost bid, however, requires that one beat someone in outrounds. That’s why Annie withdrew from the tournament – if there had been an outround prior to that then she could have advanced and Nick would have still received a ghost bid. The only alternative to that is changing the bracket, but in that case you’ve changed the outcome of at least 2 rounds because it means people would be hitting opponents that weren’t matched with them via the bracket (which is the whole point of prelims).

          If a semis bid is breaking to quarters or a finals bid breaking to semis, I’m not sure that there are enough people attending to warrant the bid, though independent of that the above point still stands.

          Local tournaments aren’t analogous to national ones – the average skill level at local tournaments wouldn’t manage to go 3-3 at a competitive national tournament, and those tournaments are often dominated by one school (e.g. my highschool had the capacity to close out some brackets in quarterfinals and won the state tournament some absurd number of years in a row).

          • Jonathan Horowitz

            Tom, your HS could never close out debate in quarterfinals. (Speech, sure).

            There were 2 policy teams, 1 PF team, and approximately 6 LDers. I have no idea how to close out in quarters with those numbers. Semis, absolutely, (and that rarely happened) but never quarters.

          • Jonathan Horowitz

            I also want to point out that I agree with Tom’s major points here. Breaking brackets is probably bad and ghost bids are perfectly legit.

      • Jacob Nails

        “Do prelims not count any more?”

        Apparently not, if placing 14th in prelims is enough to merit a bid at a semis bid tournament. I don’t think you’d hear the same complaints if the 3rd seed — whose prelim record DOES merit a bid — had walked over teammates into semifinals.

  • Andrew Bower

    I love that #loldebate slipped into this picture!