Per request I will be reposting some old 3NR articles I did about success at the TOC. This is the first installment
What does it take to win the tournament of champions? You have to win at least 9 debates. Thats it- just 9. So in essence you have 60 days to prepare for 9 debates. Lets say you and your partner are the only team from your school, and you have no support staff that does any work. Assume you can each only dedicate 2 hours a day to debate work (which, lets be honest, if these are the case you prob. are not going to win the TOC). And lets say you can only produce 5 pages of work/hour.
That means by the time of the TOC (60 days) you will have done as a team 4 hours of work a day (240 hours) producing 10 pages an hour for 2,400 pages of new evidence/arguments. Lets overestimate here and say that to produce a new aff requires 300 pages of work, and a new negative generic takes 200 pages. You are preparing for 9 debates, lets say 5 aff and 4 neg to assume you will get screwed and have to be more aff than neg. If you run a new aff every round you have to win that is 5 times 300 pages for 1500 pages. If you read a new neg generic in each of your neg debates that is 4 times 200 for 800 pages. 15 + 8= 2,300. So a team of 2 with no coaches working a modest amount per day should be able to have new arguments for every must win debate they will have at the tournament.
Viewed in total this seems monumental, virtually overwhelming. If you sit down and say ” I need to do 1200 pages of work” you will likely get discouraged and quit. The key is to remember you only need to focus on a little bit at a time. The numbers above are all exaggerated a little bit, and in reality you could get away with a lot less and still win as long as you prepared smartly. So here are some tips on how to do that
1. Forget case specific negatives. This is largely a waste of time because anyone good you debate at the toc is either going to have
A. Changed their plan/advantages
B. Decided to read a new aff
So writing super specific pics vs a particular plan wording, or spending a lot of time on a 200 page case neg to 1 aff is going to be trading off hugely with more productive work. But on top of that, lets say you have a super sick neg against team X, what are the odds you will debate them? The odds you will debate any particular team are obviously very low (they can be reasonably good if say, you were the 2 best teams and where therefore favorites to be undefeated going into round 7, or if you were the best and worst of the teams likely to be 0-6 going into that round but these chances are not significant).
You can however prepare for “areas” of the topic. So for example “getting poor people jobs” is a pretty big area of the topic and lots of different affs use mechanisms to try and do that. It is probably very likely given the status of the economy and the quality of evidence out there that many new affs will fall into this area. So instead of writing 10 jobs negs to existing cases, you need to come up with a generic jobs strategy that you can adapt to potential new jobs cases, but also apply to old jobs cases in case you hit them. So how do you go about doing this? To keep this post a manageable size lets say that you are only considering a policy strategy and that you love the politics da. If that is the case, what you need are a set of counterplans that can solve potential advantages, and a good set of link blocks that differentiate your cp from the case.
Starting with the CP
First, make a list of all the internal links that jobs affs are trying to solve. From the top of my head
-economy/comeptitiveness/hegemony (i lump these together because face it they are all the same)
Thats about all I can think of, there are probably some I am leaving out but remember this is just an example. So now think of things that would address all those areas but are not a social service. Obviously things like cap and trade spring to mind and that would probably be a good one, although due to last years topic the aff would probably be ready with some answers. But now that you have thought of a good area you can come up with other ideas. One thing I do a lot is think of the obvious CP- in this instance cap and trade, and then I think “if I was doing a neg to cap and trade what would I cut as the CP” thus removing myself 1 step from the logic the aff might use in generating a list of counterplans to cut answers to. In this case I would think “there was a sweet fund energy R and D cp vs cap and trade”. So now I have the general idea- energy R and D. I need to find some solvency cards for all those advantages above.
Next, a step people rarely think of, I need to think about the permutation. What kind of arguments could I generate to answer do social services and energy R and D. Now obviously any social services disad would link to the permutation, and you could just read a ton of them in the 2NC. But if you have a more tricky strategy you will be able to crush. With a few seconds of research you can find lots of articles that argue against upgrading the energy grid right now- their arg is that we should wait a bit until we have better tech. So in response to the perm you could read a 2NC da that said infrastructure upgrades now lock in inferior tech which turns the advantages /has an external impact. Now obviously this evidence will not say “the combo of the plan and the cp results in…” but rarely will evidence ever be that on point. Probably no affirmative will have thought this far ahead to consider these kind of arguments, so your biz doesn’t have to be devastating. If you read that along with some external net benefits to the CP and the aff decides not to go for the permutation you are golden.
2. Make sure you have good advantage defense ( or offense). Last year at the TOC there were approx. 1 billion new economy advantages ran. You could see coaches running around frantically trying to scout these, and their minions trying to desperately cut answers. Come on- its still mead 92. If you weren’t ready for that before the tournament you prob. should of gone to the derby instead. Having good updated advantage defense will mean you are fine when faced with thee “new” advantages- I mean really how many possible impacts are there for the aff to have- maybe 30 as an upper limit? Do 1 a day in the month of march and you are set.
3. Generic negatives- a generic is a coherent strategy that you can read against a new aff pretty much regardless of its content. It is usually either a CP and a DA or a K. A DA by itself I don’t really consider a full generic, but if you have good case defense it could be enough. There are a few ways to start coming up with and writing generics, but if you are going to the TOC you have prob. been to a camp/written a file before so i won’t get into the nitty gritty of “brainstorming”. Instead, lets look at what the make up of a generic should look like. If you are writing a CP and DA generic, you should have all the blocks on the list below
-1NC shells – this is obvious
-specific link/solvency modules to put in the 1NC- focus on areas (econ, hunger, health, terrorism etc)
-2NC overviews for each including turns the case/solves the case, impact analysis with cards, arguments that set up offense/defense paradigm etc
-link blocks- a generic one, area specific ones, new 2NC link arguments that you can read against any case as independent modules
-impact add ons – make sure you have diverse impacts so you don’t just have the same impact as the 1AC and lose on it being muddled
-independent net benefits to the CP
-anticipate aff arguments and write blocks to them
Lets assume conservatively that that is 20 blocks total, and 2 pages for each block, so that is 40 pages total. If you have a new argument that does not have those 40 pages you are not prepared. You need to write the blocks, then go through and highlight the blocks including analytics for efficiency, and then you need to practice reading them so you get a sense of how much you can get through. To have a good negative block you want to be able to have at least 2 strategic options alive, which means you need to be able to know that you can get through a DA and CP in 8 minutes or less.
4. Don’t count your politics eggs before they have hatched- you should not go into the TOC with “politics” as your plan. For the last 4 months or so the politics DA has been shoddy at best. The real world just isn’t playing nice with the debate construct of the political capital DA. If you write all your strategies planning to have politics be the net benefit and politics is bad at the TOC you are going to be hosed. Now obviously teams are still winning on the politics DA now but honestly that is just shameful for the affirmative and not any indication that the disad itself is sustainable. Lets say hypothetically you went to 3 more tournaments before the TOC. If you did 50 pages of politics work for each tournament that is 150 pages of useless crap that won’t help you at the TOC. If instead you dedicated that time to writing a new disad you would have a solid new generic come TOC time. I know its hard to find new things and people think all the other disads will suck blah blah blah- seriously stop and think for a second: how stupid is the politics disad? How terrible is the evidence for this disad usually? How ridiculous is it to say health care is the top of the presidents agenda, and the aff plan passing more head start would derail it? Are you really going to tell me given 2 months you can’t find a better disad than that? The politics disad is useful because you can apply it to a large number of cases and thats it. It’s not magic.